Taking on Space: MediSurge Collaborates on Rocket Science Project

A graphic from Medisurge acknowledging the importance of investing in professional education.

 

At MediSurge we understand the importance of investing in and fostering the education of future engineering professionals. Between having several current college students on staff as interns and our involvement in the collaborative additive manufacturing research program with Grand Valley State University and aMDI, our team has provided hands-on learning experiences for students interested in pursuing careers in the field.

We have collaborated on several educational projects, with the most recent being the ARES (Alabama Rocket Engineering Systems) Initiative at The University of Alabama. Because of our unique additive manufacturing materials, the ARES rocket Booster Engine Powerhead Team, comprised of University of Alabama students including Nicolas Shorey, Jiar Meagher, and Andrew Rater, approached our team for prototype fabrication assistance in their work for the Base 11 Competition.

Here is a bit more background on the initiative, competition, and MediSurge’s involvement:

The ARES Initiative

The Alabama Rocket Engineering Systems (ARES) initiative at The University of Alabama strives to develop, design, and test a liquid-fuel rocket (launch vehicle) over the next three years, capable of reaching an altitude of 100km in accordance with the Base 11 space challenge requirements.

This goal was set to provide a platform on which members interested in liquid-fuel rocketry can gain experience in the industry, and to offer an opportunity to its members to challenge themselves and push the boundaries of learning at The University of Alabama. Their vision and plan are to develop a dedicated launch vehicle capable of delivering a 6u CubeSat to lower earth orbit (LEO).

A graphic explaining the ARES initiative with a background of a rocket blasting through the atmosphere.

Base 11 Competition

The Base 11 Space Challenge is a $1 million+ industry sponsored prize for a student-led University team to design, build, and launch a liquid-propelled, single-stage rocket to an altitude of 100 kilometers (the Karman Line) by December 30, 2021.

The mission behind the Base 11 Space Challenge is to dramatically advance the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) talent in the United States with greater representation and inclusion of women and minorities, while empowering the future workforce with the education and skill-training necessary for jobs in the aerospace and related industries.

There are currently 59 teams enlisted in the competition and industry supporters include SpaceX, Blue Origin, Google, Boeing, and more.

MediSurge Involvement

The ARES Initiative is split into three rocket design teams: combustion, powerhead, and tanks. Each team is responsible for the development, design, and testing of their respective systems. The powerhead team works on creating several key components, including the oxidizer pump, fuel pump, turbine, gas-generator, seals, bearings, and valves. Because the parts needed are highly complex and will likely need tweaks throughout testing phases, the powerhead team looked into additive manufacturing as opposed to casting for this initial phase.

Along with aMDI, our team worked alongside the powerhead team for many months to layout several of the complex ARES designed parts for 3D printing, most notably the turbine rotor and volute used to deliver fuel to the rocket and the complex shaft seals. MediSurge printed the parts using our state-of-the-art Carbon 3D printer and specialized material, CE221 Cyanate Ester.

A graphic providing an in-depth look at turbine rotor and volute.

A graphic breaking down the multiple features of a turbine.

A graphic explaining the various features of turbomachinery seals.

 

The ARES team will be continuing work on their designs for the launch vehicle for the next several years. Our team at MediSurge is proud to have played a part in this work and we look forward to seeing additional updates regarding testing and the progress of Alabama on the Base 11 Competition.

For more information about our additive manufacturing abilities or our work with academia, please contact us today.

Credit: The above images were approved and provided by the ARES Powerhead Team for use in this article. Thank you to Nicolas Shorey, Jiar Meagher, Andrew Rater and the University of Alabama Aerospace department for sharing this information and the designs for use.

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