Polaris is not only one of the most consistent and reliable stars in the night sky, but it is also what is called a “binary star system.” Binary star systems are stars that appear as one but actually include two separate stars, which ties perfectly into the goal of this year’s junior team. Project Polaris’ primary objective is to design the ARES Initiative’s first two-stage rocket, building on the program’s heritage with solid propellant motors. A multiple stage launch vehicle is a technology necessary to achieve the ARES Initiative’s eventual goal of delivering payloads to lower-Earth orbit (LEO), as the efficiency of a two stage rocket will be required for such a high altitude flight. This year, the immediate goals include successfully completing a two-stage launch to 100,000 feet and implementing a composite pressure vessel motor casing. Project Polaris will be entirely designed and manufactured in-house.
The structures subteam is responsible for the design and manufacturing of Polaris’ body, fins, nose cone, and stage separation device. Additionally, the subteam will also aid in the design of the customized composite motor casing, which will be designed by the propulsion subteam. This subteam is also heavily research-based, with emphasis on ANSYS simulations and hands-on testing. Simulations are especially important for Polaris in order to ensure that all pieces of our rocket are able to withstand the stresses and strains of such a high altitude flight.
The propulsion subteam is responsible for the design and manufacturing of Polaris’ propulsion systems. There are two propulsion systems on the Polaris rocket: one for the booster stage, and one for the upper stage. Both systems are solid rocket motors, designed to produce the required impulse to bring the rocket to 100,000 feet. Additionally, this subteam plans to design a customized composite motor casing for both stages. This subteam is heavily research-based, with emphasis on MATLAB simulations and flight design iteration.
The avionics subteam is responsible for all electrical systems on the flight vehicle. Similar to Altair’s payload and electronics team, the team is split into two specific areas: live telemetry data collection/transmission and payload. The team would like to incorporate a standard electronics bay, similar to Altair's, which gathers data on flight via IMU. Additionally, they plan to include a magnetometer, GPS, barometer, and other flight standard hardware. This subteam is also responsible for the development of a flight vehicle payload, the object being carried which gives the rocket purpose. For Polaris, the payload will be the sensors and electronics that will allow us to undergo stage separation, perform standard in-flight operations, and anything else necessary to successfully reach 100,000 feet. Lastly, like every team before Polaris, the payload/electronics team is responsible for the recovery of the rocket, and configuring altimeters to deploy the drogue and main parachutes at the appropriate altitudes. This subteam works primarily with microcontrollers, general programming, hardware integration, and wiring.
The testing and safety subteam is responsible for the design and manufacturing of all of Polaris’ testing procedures as well as the testing of all systems. They will also aid in the design and manufacturing processes of propulsion, structures, and avionics components. This subteam is heavily based on hands on testing with design work for test stands and testing processes.
The business subteam is responsible for managing and overseeing all business relations between the ARES Initiative and all other businesses/sponsors. They are responsible for writing and updating monthly newsletters, one pagers, brochures, and all other forms of communication with businesses. Each business subteam member is personally matched to a few companies to best manage our sponsors and keep them up to date on team progress throughout the year. Learn more about our sponsors.
Meet our Team
St. Louis, MO
Clarendon Hills, IL
Testing and Safety Lead
Avionics Software Lead
Avionics Hardware Lead
Colorado Springs, CO
Green Bay, WI