International CanSat rocket competition returns to Tarleton June 14-16

STEPHENVILLE (June 12, 2019) — The 15th annual American Astronautical Society (AAS) CanSat Competition returns to Tarleton State University June 14 through 16, with 40 college and university teams from around the world vying for top honors.

This marks the third year in-a-row that Tarleton is serving as host site for the CanSat Competition. More than 100 teams applied for entry into this year’s competition but only the top 40 are accepted for the final rocket launch round after the preliminary design review phase.

Teams from the U.S., Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, the United Kingdom, Greece, India, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Mexico, Poland and Turkey will compete to launch a space probe into the sky.

This year’s CanSat Competition mission explores the use of auto-gyro descent control of a science payload when released from the launch vehicle. The CanSat will consist of two parts — the science payload and the container to protect the science payload as it is deployed from the rocket.


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Teams are required to design and build a CanSat that shall be launched to an altitude ranging from 670 to 725 meters above the launch site and deployed near apogee (peak altitude). Orientation of deployment is not controlled and is most definitely violent. The CanSat container must protect the science payload from damage during the launch and deployment.

Once the CanSat is deployed from the rocket, the CanSat will descend using a parachute at a descent rate of 20 meters per second. At 450 meters, the container will release its science auto-gyro payload and the descent rate shall be 10 to 15 meters per second. As the science payload descends under auto-gryo control, the payload shall transmit telemetry which shall include sensors to track altitude using air pressure, external temperature, battery voltage, GPS position, pitch and roll, and auto-gyro blade spin rate. When the science payload lands, all telemetry transmission should stop and a location audio beacon will then be activated.

“We are honored to host the 2019 student CanSat competition,” said Tarleton President F. Dominic Dottavio. “This event draws some of the brightest young minds in engineering from around the world, and we are thrilled to welcome them to our campus. I am grateful to our students on the Tarleton Aeronautical Team, their faculty mentors and CanSat sponsors for making such a significant international event possible in Stephenville.”

The competition requires teams to work on a complex engineering project, allowing them to experience — on a small scale — a typical aerospace program, from preliminary design to a post-mission debriefing.

“CanSat is truly a hands-on project that fosters creativity,” said Steve Merwin, event coordinator and a mathematics instructor at Tarleton. “This competition forces students to work together as a team rather than as individuals, creating invaluable skills they will someday need in the workforce.”

Teams will undergo flight readiness reviews and pre-flight briefings on Friday, June 14, beginning at noon. Rocket launches will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday, June 15 at Tarleton’s Agricultural Center/College Farm, located just off FM 8, west of U.S. Highway 281. Saturday’s events are free and open to the public.

Post-flight presentations are scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 16, at Tarleton’s Lamar Johanson Science Building, and awards will be given at 6:30 p.m. at the Clyde H. Wells Fine Arts Center.

In addition to Tarleton and AAS, this year’s CanSat competition is sponsored by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, NASA, Siemens, Kratos, Lockheed Martin and Praxis Inc.

As host for this year’s AAS CanSat contest, Tarleton’s internationally recognized aeronautical team will not compete.

Tarleton’s aeronautical team was created in 2011 to compete in the international CanSat competition and has participated in a NASA-based competition every year, bringing home third-place honors in the 2016 Student Launch Centennial Challenge and winning second place in 2015.

For more information on the AAS CanSat Competition in Stephenville, call Merwin at 254-968-1764 or email merwin@tarleton.edu.

To learn more about the 2019 CanSat Competition, visit www.cansatcompetition.com.

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