Permanently Grounded was a Mechanical Engineering Department Senior Design team tasked with providing the ARES Initiative a solid rocket propulsion system test stand. The test stand provides a means of demonstrating the safety and reliability of solid rocket propulsion systems as well as characterizing propellant formulas and performances. This information allows the ARES Initiative to improve future solids design, while also providing confidence in manufacturing processes and demonstrated safety. To achieve this, Permanently Grounded designed the test stand to safely withstand the thrust that will be applied by ARES solid propulsion systems. Thanks to a generous donation from PCB Piezotronics the test stand is also outfitted with dynamic force sensors.
Due to the robust design of the stand and its ease of use, the project has also provided the ARES Initiative an excellent tool for outreach, such as with the middle school students participating in the Tuscaloosa Rocketry Challenge.
A Mechanical Engineering Department Senior Design team was contracted to design and build a storable, adjustable launch tower for the ARES Initiative. The launch tower has the capability to safely launch 4 inch to 6 inch diameter rockets, with possible future adaptation to larger diameters. The launch tower is four separate pieces, each 5 feet in length, allowing overall launch tower height to be configurable between 5 feet and 20 feet. The tower also features a base with a pivot for ease in lifting as well as extension legs for increased stability. The inner rails are adjusted to custom fit any diameter in between the 4 inch to 6 inch range.
ARES Project Altair debuted the launch tower at the Spaceport America Cup in 2018 during their flight to 30,000 feet.