Starscraper Suborbital Launch Vehicle

Mk. IIB subscale test engine for LITVC development

Mk. IIB subscale test engine for LITVC development

Starscraper is a suborbital rocket designed and manufactured by the Boston University Rocket Propulsion Group.  It is the one of the most capable and most advanced university rockets ever developed. The Mk. V, Starscraper’s engine, is the culmination of three years of research and development by the BURPG team.  Starscraper’s inaugural launch is scheduled for July of 2016 out of the Black Rock Desert, Nevada in conjunction with the Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation, who are providing launch support for the project.

It stands 28 feet tall, 12 inches in diameter, weighs 1,100 lbs on the pad, and will be capable of launching 100 lbs to more than 80 miles altitude, subjecting the payload to incredibly low vibration and less than 6 G’s acceleration during ascent.

The hybrid engine features chilled propellant, a pressure fed oxidizer system, closed loop throttle control, and closed loop liquid injection thrust vector control. It will be the first thrust vectored hybrid ever flown and only the third actively stabilized high power amateur rocket flown, the first two being BURPG’s own ASTRo solid motor vehicle and Mk. VI subscale test engine vehicle. The design philosophy behind Starscraper is to take a professional level approach and scale down technologies used on orbital boosters. It is designed and built entirely by undergraduate students at BU.

All of the avionics and support electronics hardware is designed in house and hand assembled by students, and all software is written from scratch. The rocket and ground systems have more than 90 data channels, all processed and stored in real time. A telemetry system featuring custom antennas beams data to the ground during the flight. The lack of off the shelf systems in Starscraper has afforded the same design process as used on the mechanical aspects of the rocket, creating a very high performance and optimized electronics system.

Following its first hot fire test in May 2015, the flight vehicle is currently being refurbished in Boston for a second acceptance test on the ground before transport to Nevada for flight. If successful, the launch of Starscraper will redefine the expectations of what can be achieved on the amateur level.