New Mexico Tech Team Launches its Rocket at Spaceport

June 24, 2022

Student team participates in Spaceport America Cup rocketry competition

New Mexico Tech's rocket
New Mexico Tech's rocket, ready for launch.

SOCORRO, N.M. – A student team from New Mexico Tech launched its rocket June 23, 2022, at Spaceport America as part of an international rocketry competition. The Tech team competed along with approximately 100 other teams from colleges and universities from around the world.

Rocket launches were held over three days at Spaceport America near Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. The Spaceport America Cup is the world’s largest Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition for student rocketry teams. Teams from colleges and universities in 20 countries launch solid, liquid, and hybrid rockets to target altitudes of 10,000 and 30,000 feet. The event is organized yearly by the nonprofit Experimental Sounding Rocket Association.

NMT Spaceport America Cup Team
The New Mexico Tech Team poses with its rocket prior to the Spaceport America Cup launch on June 23, 2022. Left to right: David Avalos, Paul Morabito, Jessie Cooke, Caleb Graham, and Austin Petring.

According to the Tech team’s advisor, Dr. Michael Hargather, professor of Mechanical Engineering, the team's major accomplishments were designing and building their own rocket motor that performed perfectly in the launch. 

New Mexico Tech's rocket launch
New Mexico Tech’s rocket takes off at the Spaceport America Cup on June 23, 2022.

“The rocket airframe seemed to have a failure during the early flight time, which can be seen coming apart in the video,” he said. “The team recovered all of the pieces and is now examining what caused the failure and how to address it in the future. Flight data was recovered, which will help us determine that the motor performed as expected.” 

Tech rocket team members include: David Avalos (propulsion lead), Austin Petring (team lead), Paul Morabito, Dana Figueroa, Jessica Cooke, Logan Franchell, and Melanie Deeble. Caleb Graham was a mentor for the team throughout their project for the last year and was the Flyer of Record for the launch. He previously worked for X-Bow in Socorro. Dr. Hargather is the team’s faculty advisor.

Spaceport America Cup 2022
Teams competing in the 2022 Spaceport America Cup pose for a group photo.

An archived video feed from the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association is available on it YouTube Channel at: