Halfway to Space

By Cooper Eastwood

This blog is an update to Cooper’s first blog: Aiming for Space with a Fully Reusable Rocket

Hi again! I am Cooper Eastwood, an Aeronautical Engineering sophomore and co-investigator of the Embry-Riddle Suborbital Reusable Vehicle. The whole world put itself on pause and everyone felt the effects. I know that at my home in Los Angeles many businesses and everyday workers have been forced inside due to the pandemic. Online learning, commerce, and communication became the new norm. I and many others have witnessed the whole world adapt and change in only a few months. Now almost a year later much has changed but the goal is always the same: to get to space cheaper and more often.

The Embry-Riddle Suborbital Reusable Vehicle (ERAU-SRV) team transitioned completely online during the summer period. Gaurav Nene and I stayed on task even in different parts of the country through video calls and scheduled meetings. Our small integrated team dynamic allowed us an easy transition as we can continue working diligently on the next steps of development whenever necessary. During this time, we submitted the lengthy and necessary documentation for unguided commercial suborbital vehicle launch approval at Spaceport America. We coordinated documentation with the FAA’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) and the New Mexico Spaceport Authority. Then in June 2020 we received the launch approval for a future date in 2021. We are taking our two-stage launch vehicle past the Karman line, or 100 kilometers, and to do so we need to launch from an FAA licensed facility. As New Mexico begins the process of allowing more frequent travel to their federal sites, the team will be at Spaceport America to observe the launch facilities and finally meet the ground support members.

Me manufacturing our sustainer fins on a CNC mill

To get the final funding we needed to finish the vehicle. The College of Engineering, the Undergraduate Research Institute, and Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus opened an opportunity for student projects to win grant funding by presenting in front of the Board of Alumni. Dr. Ron Madler, Dean of the College of Engineering, extended an invitation for us to further our research and break new ground with this brand-new alumni collaboration. We submitted a proposal to the board, bidding for a chance to present. This contained our preliminary design review, our FAA package, and the AIAA published technical report regarding our avionics. We qualified as one of the top three finalists and in under a week we made our presentation. Once the dust settled, we were awarded a grant to accelerate our work! With this new thrust of momentum and enough funding to purchase the rest of the booster stage, the next step in our engineering method was to verify our vehicle.

We required a launch test of our sustainer to accomplish six objectives: verify performance and our trajectory models, qualify the structural components, validate the recovery system, validate performance of telemetry, gain experience with pre-launch operations, and gain post-launch operations experience. After five days of integration we put the vehicle on the pad at Friends of Amateur Rocketry launch site in Mojave, California.

The ERAU-SRV sustainer takes flight!

On December 19th, 2020 at around 12:30 PM, the rocket was launched and experienced a recovery system failure at apogee which was addressed in a 35-page post-flight report. The sustainer surpassed its goal of 31,666 feet – exactly 6 miles. The vehicle was only partially recovered due to ballistic reentry, however we received two sets of flight data from our identical on-board computers. Every piece of the rocket was sifted from the sand, meticulously inspected, and documented. By finishing the in-depth report we completed five of our six objectives and proved that we could take the step forward on construction of the booster stage to launch at Spaceport America.

Recover and inspection of the rocket underway. We found parts to the GoPro, Spot Tracker, both AIM XTRA computers, as well as all the body components. Due to this inspection we found the root cause of the failure.

Immediately after our test we welcomed a new faculty advisor as well as a member of our team. Our previous faculty advisor Dr. Michael Fabian moved on to government research and Prof. Robert Gerrick, Mechanical Engineering Chair, took the role of our mentor. William Knoblauch, a Mechanical Engineering freshman, also became a member of our team by assisting in post-flight analysis and continuing testing research on flight critical hardware. We are in the process of accepting new members aiming to grow hands on experience with suborbital launch vehicles. As our vehicle and team grow, so do our hopes of surpassing our goals.

Gaurav (left) and Me (right) holding the sustainer right before placing it on the launch rail.

When the previous post left off, we were anticipating a trip to Portland, Oregon to attend the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Student Conference Region VI and present a 30-minute presentation on our avionics system at the conference. This was cancelled only a week before taking place in March 2020 and was postponed until the same time this year. Now after resubmitting the paper to a judge’s panel for review, it was accepted to the 2021 student conference at California State Long Beach and will be taking place in April.

Being a cross-discipline undergraduate research project gives us the opportunity to collaborate with a diverse group of engineers who can all contribute to space flight. As we expect many more space launches, the amount of experimental data gained per flight will be exponential. After a successful launch we will be calling on all students and as well as those considering enrolling at Embry-Riddle Prescott to form ideas, build hardware, and program experiments for the vehicle. These will all be taken to space, an environment that can be exclusively reached repeatedly only at Embry-Riddle. If you have a great idea and a goal, you really can get to space with the College of Engineering and the Undergraduate Research Institute’s backing.

Spread Your Wings at Embry-Riddle

by Richard Santi

Hi Everyone! My name is Richard Santi and I am currently a Senior at Embry-Riddle in Prescott. I am majoring in Aeronautical Science – Fixed Wing, with a minor in Business Administration. On campus, I am a member of our national championship winning Golden Eagles Flight Team, and work as a Senior Campus Ambassador at our Admissions Office (If you come and visit campus, I might be your tour guide)! 

I am incredibly excited to be sharing a bit about my experience at Embry-Riddle with all of you, and will be writing to you regularly, so be sure to check back! I wanted to start off by introducing myself a bit more and sharing with you my journey to Embry-Riddle. I am originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, and grew up in the Chicago area. From a young age, my eyes were always turned skyward, and I could only dream of one day working in the cockpit of an airplane. When I was looking at colleges that had aviation programs, only one stood out to me as the very best. I asked different people who were in the aviation business what school they suggested, and the answer was almost unanimous. “Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.” Without a doubt. 

I have always been a Midwesterner. Most of the landscapes I was used to were farms and skyscrapers. But after all, college is a time for adventure and I was very excited to see a new place for a few years, moving to the beautiful mountains of Arizona. I moved to Prescott in the summer of 2017. I only had about 4 flight hours in my logbook; virtually nothing. No real flight training or formal flight education. Despite this, I flew my very first week here. The first lesson was incredibly simple. How to turn the aircraft left and right using proper rudder coordination. I remember feeling very comfortable, knowing this is what I was meant to do, but I also remember the feeling that I had a long way to go.   

As it turns out, a long way is not so long when you are training at Embry-Riddle. Three more years of flight training and now I am a licensed Commercial Pilot. I have over 270 hours of flight time and have flown in collegiate flying competitions. I have a job offer from a major regional airline and plan on starting flight instructor training soon. I have learned about topics I knew pretty much nothing about before coming to college. Extensive details of aircraft systems, how the stability of the atmosphere affects thunderstorms, the detailed aerodynamics of a tailspin… All topics I had literally zero understanding of prior to coming to Embry-Riddle. All of this was done while simultaneously earning a college degree.

The reason I am mentioning all of this is that I wanted to let you all know that as I post my future blogs, I will be explaining in detail all of my cool experiences at Embry-Riddle, whether it is going through flight training, being on the flight team, or hanging out with friends and enjoying all of the awesome scenery that Prescott has to offer. But really, the main point I would like you to take away from my experience is that whatever you do here, you will learn way more than you thought possible. You will gain way more skills than you thought possible, and you will become someone ready to succeed in whatever field you go into. You will do all of it while having a blast! 

I look forward to sharing more with you!

My Summer Internship with The Boeing Company

by Dai Ibrahim

This summer I had the opportunity to work at The Boeing Company in Seattle, Washington. As an Embry-Riddle Software Engineering Student, I was a part of the cyber security product development team. I quickly found out that ERAU students’ reputation precedes us. When I told my co-workers that I attend ERAU, they all praised the university and the students. My team especially loved ERAU because of our manager, Sheila B. Reilley. I had the pleasure to work with Sheila before she retired after 30+ years at Boeing. I will forever be grateful to Sheila for giving me the opportunity to work with her team this summer.

The Boeing sign at the 40-88 building in Everett, WA.

I worked with two different groups within the team over the 12 weeks I was there. At first, I worked for autonomous systems. Within autonomous systems, I worked with my team lead, ERAU Alum Alan Tomaszycki, and the College of Security and Intelligence on developing a multi-discipline capstone project. I was also able to contribute to a patent that is in the process of getting approved.

The space needle park in Seattle, WA.

After that project was complete, I went on to work with the rest of the team in Seattle where I worked on front-end development which is what I am really interested in. I was put on a team developing a front-end for airplane log data that was in JSON format. I was assigned to work with one other intern on the front end while two interns worked on the back end of parsing the logs. My partner and I started by getting requirements from the members of the team that were going to be the primary users. After gathering the requirements, we started by experimenting with the designs and making wireframes and screen-flows that imitated what we wanted the displays to look like and satisfied the requirements.  When the basic design process was done, we started working on use case scenarios. We came up with six different scenarios for how the displays could be used. We then revisited our designs, and we altered them so they would better reflect the scenarios. The software engineering courses that I took over the past three years have prepared me for the real-world applications of the engineering process.

Cold War’s B-47 Stratojet in the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA.

We had weekly meetings with the team and the project leader to go over our designs to ensure that they aligned with the needs of the team. After we got the okay on our designs, the next step which I was in charge of was implementation. I got the data that the back-end team produced, and I used python and TKinter to make the front-end piece. Programming the display was the easiest and most enjoyable part for me. I requested a code review with some of my coworker to get feedback on my program, and I got lots of comments praising my code. My coworkers pointed out that they can tell that I am a software engineering major and not CS like most of the interns because of how maintainable and well written my code was, and how well I documented it. During this whole process, I discovered that the ERAU software engineering classes have equipped me with all the skills and the knowledge that I need in the field and the ability to adapt to new challenges. I was more knowledgeable about the software engineering process that most interns, and I owe it to the SE professors who prepared me to make it all possible.

SR-71 Blackbird in the Museum of Flight in Seattle, WA.

I learned so much from my team over the 12 weeks. Most importantly, I learned about the software engineering process for front-end development. I am now certain that I want to pursue front-end development as a full-time career. I was given a return offer to Boeing for an internship next summer with the same team on my last day. I had a blast working with my team this summer, and I can’t wait to see what I will be working on next summer.

The annual Embry-Riddle/Boeing partnership summit at the Boeing Flight Test & Delivery Center in Seattle, WA.

Internship at Lemuel Martinez’s 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office

by Dante Gurule, Forensic Biology

In the summer of May 2019 I interned at the Lemuel Martinez’s 13th Judicial District Attorney’s Office in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There is a DA office in each of the three counties including Sandoval, Cibola and Valencia. I worked for Sandoval County as it was the closest to my house. At the DA office there are many attorneys that work under Lemuel Martinez. These attorneys represent the State in criminal cases for all cases whether it be a felony or misdemeanor offense. During this internship I got to assist these attorneys with building case files, as well as observe them in both the District court, for felony offenses, and Magistrate court, for misdemeanor and below offenses. In preparing cases I would work with the different legal assistants and take on my own cases as I would prepare them for a variety of attorneys. Most cases I prepared were domestic violence cases including battery, deprivation of property, violation of restraining orders, etc.

The Sandoval District Attorney’s Office

The majority of my classes for my forensic biology degree did not provide much knowledge for this internship as my degree has a heavier emphasis on the sciences. However, the mock trials done in both my Instrument Analysis and Trace Evidence class as well as my Investigative Methods and Forensics Science class allowed me to understand the procedures and components of a trial. My Intro to US Legal System and US history classes gave me a good foundational understanding of our laws and constitution. I think it’s important to note I am yet to take the procedural law class for my degree which would have been very useful. I think my class work did show me the importance of forensics in law and how they coincide.

This internship was important for both my career and educational plans. After I graduate I plan to go to law school and this internship at the DA office not only introduced me to what Attorneys do but also allowed me to put my foot in the door to intern again with them while in Law School so I could get more hands on work with the Attorneys. This internship was overall a great experience and I am glad I got to work there.

The Magistrate Courthouse
Sandoval County District Court

Chloeleen’s Internship at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

The sign right at the entrance to JPL.

During the summer of 2018, I had the privilege to work as an intern at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). It has been a lifelong dream of mine to work at JPL and I got to live it as a part of the Integration and Test team on the Mars Helicopter Project (which will be headed to space on the Mars 2020 mission).

This is a model of the helicopter that was brought out for a presentation at JPL about the project.

You may think “Wow, she must have done a lot to get an internship at JPL!”. However, my resume was as built as any inexperienced college student. One thing to keep in mind is don’t dismiss activities or projects done in high school; an engineering project I did in high school is what caught my JPL mentors’ attention when they decided to contact me for a phone interview.

One my first day, I was extremely overwhelmed because the project was well underway, and I needed to catch up. My mentors were very understanding and welcomed any questions I had throughout my internship. I was tasked with assisting with testing as well as writing procedures for future tests.

Outside the lab where they did the shock testing that I participated in.

Aside from work, JPL held several activities for interns the entire summer, like speaker events, short movie series, and facility tours. My most exciting experiences as an intern were: (1) participating in the NASA Summer Intern Challenge, (2) being interviewed for an article highlighting some projects at JPL, (3) participating and watching any Mars Helicopter test activities.

This picture was taken early on in my internship. This was my original carpool group.

One thing I learned from my experiences at Embry-Riddle is to be patient because hard work and a little luck will pay off. I’ve had some hard semesters where I thought I wouldn’t make it through a class, but I studied hard and got the grade I needed on the finals. The curriculum that was most helpful to me during my internship at JPL was Technical Report Writing. While different JPL projects have their own formatting requirements, I used what I learned to section the procedures I was writing, make sure that the steps were detailed, and ensured that there was enough information for each step with images, callouts, and tables.

This picture is the mission control for space flight operations. It is where NASA’s Deep Space Network is operated. It was named after the former director of JPL, Charles Elachi. The room
right next to this one is the room that JPL broadcasts from for mission landings, like the
Insight Landing that happened in November.

Cyber Defense Club Shines at Department of Energy’s Cyberforce Competition

Embry-Riddle Cyber Defense Club

ERAU’s Cyber Defense Club places 34th out of 80 teams for the Cyberforce competition, the team scored full red team points at half-time and was a favorite team at Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory.

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s Cyber Defense Club sent 6 members to compete in the Department of Energy’s Cyberforce Competition.

The team was given 2 weeks to prepare a website, mail server, create users, patch vulnerabilities and secure 5 Virtual Machines that were given to them. They had to make the systems usable and work with a miniature oil pump and a raspberry pi cluster made of 4 raspberry pi computers that were given to them the day of the competition.

The team was the only team out of 4 competing teams at Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory that had the Human-Machine Interface, the raspberry pi cluster and the oil pump successfully operating.

Professor Jesse Laeuchli helped the students prepare and attended the competition for assistance with setup for the Raspberry Pi Cluster and the Oil Pump.

The students that helped prepare and compete were:

  • Michaela Adams
  • Dani Chappelle
  • Jacob Henry
  • Andrew Recker
  • Alan Tomaszycki
  • Jessica Wilson

The students acted as a Blue Team and was able to make a working machine for the users of the laboratory, and successfully defend against a red-team of hackers who were attempting to breach the system.

They also got to tour the laboratory and see the full-scale super computer that their miniature Raspberry Pi cluster was modeled after, meet members of the Lawrence-Berkeley National Laboratory and meet school members from UC Davis, UC Berkeley and UC Santa Barbara.

The students were given their oil pump and raspberry pi cluster to take home and use to help teach other members of the club and prepare for next years’ competition.

Out of the 4 teams attending Lawrence-Berkeley, the team placed 3/4 teams and nationally they placed 34/80 teams.

Rick Perry, the Secretary of Energy debriefed all teams competing in the competition to help show the importance of cybersecurity in our nation and how jobs in cybersecurity are the most-needed job in America right now.

The cyberforce competition is run yearly, and this was Embry-Riddle and the Cyber Defense Clubs’ first attendance of the competition.

For more information, please visit https://cyberforcecompetition.com/