Cyclone Rocketry is Iowa State’s high-powered rocketry team, a multidisciplinary group that competes in the world’s largest intercollegiate rocket engineering competition: The Spaceport America Cup (SAC).
Our mission is to educate, challenge, and inspire Iowa State students, community members, and future generations about rocketry, science, engineering, and space.
Through rocket design, manufacture, testing, and flight Cyclone Rocketry provides valuable hands-on exposure to rocket engineering, an invaluable opportunity to gain experience outside the classroom in this engineering field. Team members participate in all the key steps of a complete engineering project, providing practical knowledge, fostering leadership development, and building modern communication skills.
The team was founded in the fall of 2017, with the goal of competing in SAC 2018. Within our short history, the team has been awarded both the Iowa State Newcomer Club of the Year and Outstanding Achievement awards by the University.
Each year we research, design, manufacture, test, and fly a new competition rocket. Cyclone Rocketry launched Invictus at SAC 2018 and Nova Somnium at SAC 2019. Unfortunately, the competition was canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. However, we were still able to complete and fly Ortu Solis in 2020 and Renegade in 2021. 2022 marks the return to Spaceport America Cup for Cyclone Rocketry with our new rocket, Imperator.
Nova Somnium taking off at the 2019 Spaceport America Cup
Ortu Solis thousands of feet in the air above North Branch, MN shortly after apogee
Renegade lifting off at North Branch, MN in 2021
CAD design of Imperator
The mission of Imperator is to fly to an apogee of 10,000 ft above ground level. The scoring at SAC 2022 will largely depend on our altitude accuracy and our ability to successfully recover the vehicle and its club-designed payload. Here are some technical details of this year's competition rocket.
Height: 13' 5''
Airframe diameter: 6''
Vehicle weight on the pad: 87 lb
Maximum acceleration: 8.36 G
Maximum velocity: 900 fps / 0.82 Mach
Propulsion Team at the Full-Sale Motor Test
Imperator is being built using many Student Researched and Designed (SRAD) technologies. Cyclone Rocketry pursues these technologies because they allow for more custom rocketry hardware and offer our members more design and manufacturing experience.
Aerostructures The airframe of the rocket consists of body tubes, nosecone, couplers, and fins. All components are made primarily of carbon fiber, with the exception of the fiberglass nosecone. The couplers are produced with a female-mold vacuum bag technique. This year, we are utilizing our new X-Winder machine to produce body tubes and the nose cone with composite filament winding technology. The fins are secured to the body with a tip-to-tip layup.
Avionics The purpose of our SRAD avionics boards is to control the airbrakes in flight and log flight data. Both the physical boards and the flight software are student-made, and process pressure and acceleration data to determine airbrake actuation. A new software control system is being researched for use at the competition.
Mechanical Our objective at SAC 2022 is to achieve an apogee of exactly 10,000 ft AGL. To achieve this, our mechanical team designs and manufactures airbrakes that decelerate the rocket during the coast phase of flight. This year, advanced metals optimization techniques are being used to trim unnecessary mass from the airbrakes. The mechanical team leads the manufacturing of metal parts of the rocket.
Payload Each year a cubesat payload is launched with the rocket. This year, the payload will perform a live analysis of the nosecone inflight by gathering temperature and strain data. The data is transmitted to a ground station where it can be analyzed within a GUI. Results from this experiment will help inform nosecone design in future years.
Propulsion Cyclone Rocketry's propulsion team was founded in the fall of 2018 with the goal of producing a motor to propel the competition rocket. Over the past four years, the team has formulated and tested propellant mixtures and conducted many static subscale motor tests. This year, the propulsion team designed and manufactured a full-scale motor, and have successfully tested the motor in a new vertical test stand.
Recovery The parachutes control vertical velocity while the rocket descends. This year, the recovery team is manufacturing elliptical parachutes, which is an upgrade from the cruciform geometry of previous years. Besides parachutes, the recovery team also determines shock cord sizing and performs many tests to verify the recovery systems prior to flight.
Subscale motor test from December 2019
Subscale Testing Rocket Manufacturing from 2022
Parachute Subscale Test From 2021
Support Cyclone Rocketry
Cyclone Rocketry offers exceptional learning opportunities to its members. We are now in the manufacturing phase of the project, which involves purchasing all components necessary to make Imperator a reality. We require support from generous donors to achieve our mission. Donations from this fundraiser will also support Cyclone Rocketry's return to Spaceport America Cup, which will be June 20-25th in New Mexico. Please read the benefits associated with the donation levels on the right side of this page. We are extremely grateful for your support!
Team members and Advisor at the 2021 Full-Scale Launch
Check out the Propulsion Team's Full-Scale Static Fire Test!
Special thanks to Iowa State University's Engineering Student Council for endorsing Rocket Shop’s ability to use the Cyclone™ Rocketry wordmark: