LISTEN 03:51

Battling scorching temperatures and dusty winds in the New Mexico desert, the WPI High Power Rocketry Club (HPRC) recently achieved its first successful launch at the Spaceport America Cup.  

At around 11:40 a.m. June 22, the WPI crew launched Capricornus, its solid-fueled rocket, into the sky. Blasting just beyond its 10,000-foot goal, the 12-foot-long, 70-pound rocket deployed its parachute after reaching an apogee of 10,264 feet, and gently returned to the ground. The launch earned the team the Jim Furfaro Technical Excellence Award and a third place in the Payload Challenge, sponsored by Space Dynamics Laboratory at Utah State University.  

The team focuses on the annual Spaceport America Cup, which calls for teams to construct a rocket and successfully launch it while carrying a small payload. This year the payload included a unique quadcopter designed to deploy weather data collection cubes in the desert, inspired by NASA’s scientific missions to other planets.  

The Spaceport America Cup unfolds over several days and includes a conference that allows students to present their projects in front of judges from sponsor companies that include Blue Origin, Onshape, Virgin Galactic, and Relativity, to name just a few. HPRC current members and alumni are working at some of those companies and more, including SpaceX, Rocket Lab, Astra, Odyssey Space Research, Maxar, and Raytheon Technologies. This year the WPI Structures Team of the HPRC received an exclusive invitation to give a podium presentation in front of judges, industry professionals, and fellow competitors. Rocket Lead Terence Tan ’24 and Structures Lead Tobias Enoch ’25 presented the development of the team’s threaded aluminum couplers, a critical part of the rocket’s structure. 

In addition to Tan and Enoch, members of this year’s Spaceport Cup team included the following:

  • Class of 2023: Abby Hyde, Julia Sheats, Jake Roller, Kevin Schultz, Michael Beskid, Newton Le, and Logan Frandsen
  • Class of 2024: Jackson Neu, Jonathan Whooley, Keelan Boyle, Haggay Vardi, Rayden Morley, Aunika Yasui, Cameron McAfee, and Kelli Huang
  • Class of 2025: Cameron Best, Dan Pearson, Hunter Crossman, Henry Lambert, Emma Pollak, Francisco Diaz Quinones, Sarah Semy, Ryan Truher, Max Friedman, and Lyle Edwards
  • Class of 2026: Dylan Dsilva, Kate Lindsay, Daniel Willins, Nikolaos Gerakaris, and Nikhil Gangaram

The team’s sponsors included WPI Giving Day Donors, WPI Tinkerbox, Altium, Test Devices by SCHENK, Ensign-Bickford Aerospace and Defense, ENDAQ, Collins Aerospace, Blue Origin, and Atomic Machines.