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Akron Akronauts rocket team moves closer to a space shot

A group of University of Akron students is trying to reach space. The Akronauts hope to reach new heights with their latest launch.

AKRON, Ohio — College students at the University of Akron are focused. Not on the next exam, but launching a rocket. The Akronauts engineering design team is a volunteer group, made up of hundreds of members, working on high altitude rocketry.  

“We try to make it run more like a small space company,” said Riley Myers, the President of the Akronauts Rocket Design Team. “That is kind of our aim to mimic industry. Cause the goal at the end of the day is to prepare engineers for industry.”

“If it wasn’t for these kinds of extra curriculars, like you know, I don’t think I would have found the same love for engineering that I have,” remarks Ryan Dippolito, Chief Mechanical Engineer for the Akronauts.

The team putting its Emergence 3 rocket through its paces, with a dry run through of launch day. Each part of the 16 foot, two stage rocket is tested, modified and tested again. A lot of hard work that’s paving the way to their goal.

“The ultimate goal of the Emergence series is to get a rocket into space. Not many collegiate teams have done that,” stated Lance Rocko, Chief Electrical Engineer for Akronauts.

They will reach their space shot in phases: Emergence 1 flew over 14,000 feet, Emergence 2 over 21,000 thousand, Emergence 3 is expected to fly over 40,000 feet. By 2024, they hope Emergence 5 will get them there. 

A large part of Emergence 3 is custom built, making it an SRAD rocket, or student research and design. This includes the two rocket engines, the fuel, and even the flight computer.

“We have a computer on here that is capable on controlling the whole rocket on its own. The board is 3 inches long by 2 inches wide. It’s very small,” said Rosko.

The Akronauts will take Emergence 3 to California for launch, due to restrictions here. “Believe it or not they don’t like it when you launch rockets of this size in the middle of Akron,” Myers said with a laugh.

After hours of work, students raise Emergence 3 on the launch pad, the final step in this run through. Excited that they get to build rockets with their own hands.

“It’s awesome. It is probably the coolest thing I get to do at school,” said Dippolito.

“Being on the team has really set me up to be successful in my career,” added Rosko

“Rocket team is just a way for you to take all those concepts you are learning about and all that theory and apply it in this really cool way,” said Myers.

This isn’t the only launch the Akronauts are working on. They have a liquid fueled rocket and a competition they are preparing for. The group also built a rocket with the I Promise School and will have an exhibit in the Akron Children’s Museum once the museum’s renovations are complete.

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