A year in review with Louisville Rocketry


Richard Lian

The rocketry team at the science center in February

Guest Contributor

Let’s take a look at what Manual’s rocketry club has been working on! 

This year “the goal was to develop a fully reusable, easy to manufacture design,” says Richard Lian (MST, 10), the club’s founder. They wanted to qualify for this year’s American Rocketry Competition.  

In the first semester, the team mostly worked on design integration and prototyping. 

The team brainstorms in the lab (Richard Lian)

The team used 3d printing and composites to manufacture the body and fins of the rocket. 

“We placed a lot of emphasis on simplifying the assembly process from what would’ve taken a week’s worth of work down to 1 hour of assembly,” Lian said. 

The team also worked on outreach events. 

“Organizing some of our own in the community with elementary and middle school, Boy Scout troops, the Kentucky science center and our own events,” Lian said.

In November, Lian reached out to Blue Origin, Jeff Besos’s rocket company, and got marketing executive Eddie Seyffert to speak with a group of about 30 students about Blue Origin’s most recent rocket launch, Blue Origin’s future projects and the rocketry club’s specs. (read more

The team works with young visitors at the science center (Richard Lian)                                                                                                                                            Flight testing began in October and the team worked until May testing and tweaking their design.

“We qualified for the national competition and the second week of May we went to Washington DC to compete and had an amazing experience there. It was an awesome event to come together with 99 other teams,” Lian said. 

On March 23 the team was interviewed for WDRB. You can read the story here

“Everyone was excited to be interviewed and very grateful,” Lian said. 

As the year comes to a close Lian speaks about their plan for the summer and the coming year. 

“We are planning on doing an electromagnetic ejection system for the parachutes on our rocket to eject at the right altitude,” they said.

The team is also aiming to be the first high school rocketry program to develop a working liquid bipropellant engine. 

“The goal for the engine is to produce 600-pound force nominally with a 5-second burn duration using ethanol/nitrous oxide fuel and oxidizer,” said Lian. 

If successful, the launch of this ‘nexus’ engine would make the team the first high school to hot fire and launch a rocket using this engine type. 

Lian explains that only a couple of collegiate teams have done this and pulling it off would mean better chances of landing a coveted internship with rocket companies in the future. The team currently has only six members but Lian expects up to 40 members next year.