Student-designed rocket launched from Spaceport America sets new record


SPACEPORT AMERICA, N.M. (KRQE) – The University of Southern California says it’s believed to be the highest altitude that any all-student designed, manufactured and built rocket has ever flown anywhere in the world.

It is definitely the highest altitude ever achieved by a student rocket at Spaceport America.

Earlier this month, the USC Fathom II rocket blasted off from the desert facility near Truth or Consequences, N.M. and reached an altitude of 144,000 feet, or more than 27 miles above the earth.

The rocketeers are from the USC Viterbi School of Engineering Rocket Propulsion Lab and came to New Mexico’s Spaceport America to have plenty of room to launch their latest design.

“The USC RPL student team continues to amaze us with their ingenuity, energy and ambition,” said Yannis C. Yortsos, Dean of the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

The USC team next plans to build a rocket that will make it all the way to space.

“The goal of this mission was to qualify and test our systems before moving on to our next space shot,” said RPL Chief Engineer Carter Allen in a statement.

“You know what that means? Time to move on to space.”

That next rocket will have to soar more than twice as high as the Fathom II and pass the Kármán line, the boundary between the atmosphere and space, at 100 km (62 miles) above the earth.

Spaceport America is home to several other spacecraft and rocket operations.

UP Aerospace regularly flies larger, vertically-launched rockets from the facility, carrying commercial and scientific payloads well into space.

In the next couple of years, Virgin Galactic plans to launch tourists on suborbital flights from Spaceport America.

This June, the facility will host the world’s largest university rocket competition.

More than 110 college rocket teams from about a dozen countries will compete in the “Spaceport America Cup.”

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