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Long Beach State University Rocketry Team Achieves Successful Launch

Published January 11, 2019

LONG BEACH, Calif. (Jan. 11, 2019) – Beach Launch Team, a group of Long Beach State University students united by their objective to fire a rocket into outer space, advanced toward that goal by launching a new student-developed liquid propellant rocket to an estimated altitude of some 6,000 feet.

The rocket, Beach 1, launched Jan. 5 from the Friends of Amateur Rocketry Site near Randsburg, in the desert area of eastern Kern County, Calif.

“The students and mentors have worked tirelessly over the past two years to perfect their design,” College of Engineering Dean Forouzan Golshani said. “The goal is to actually put a rocket into space within three years. This is a very good step toward that.”

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Beach 1 features several key components – skin, fins, nose cone and communication software –developed by students attending the Long Beach campus. A mixture of liquid oxygen and methane fueled the rocket.

“The launch was a significant milestone for Beach Launch Team. This was the first launch of a rocket built entirely by the team as an independent, student-run organization. Previously the students worked under close supervision and direction of industry professionals, but this rocket design was 100 percent made by Long Beach State students. This really marks the beginning of a new era for rocketry at The Beach,” said Andrey Ruf, chief engineer for Beach Launch Team.

Lessons learned from the Saturday’s launch will help Beach Launch Team members toward their ultimate goal of victory in the Base 11 Space Challenge, which offers a $1-million prize to the first team of university students from the United States or Canada that sends a single-stage, liquid-fuel rocket to an altitude of 100 kilometers, which is greater than 60 miles, by Dec. 30, 2021.

“Being a freshman and launching a rocket really gave me a glimpse of what I want to do and the goals I want to accomplish down the line. It felt surreal, seeing this project that various people gave both time and effort to take flight. At the launch site, everyone moved and worked like an industry-grade team with the goal directly set on launching the rocket,” said Christopher Tapia, the launch team’s lab manager.

The team’s success builds upon not only past achievements, but also the lessons learned from scrubbed launches.

“This launch showed people that we are capable of creating a powerful rocket,” said Sean Won, the launch team’s project manager. “These past experiences will guide the team to win rocket competitions. The team is currently reflecting upon the launch to see which areas could be improved for the next vehicle. Most importantly, this must be the best way to start off a new year."

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The National College Resources Foundation and donor Foster Stanback sponsored Beach Launch Team’s effort. Associate professor Praveen Shankar and assistant professor Mahdi Yoozbashizadeh of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering within the College of Engineering mentored team members, as did Friends of Amateur Rocketry treasurer and aerospace engineer Mark Holthaus.


About the campus:
Long Beach State University is a teaching-intensive, research-driven university committed to providing highly valued undergraduate and graduate degrees critical for success in the globally minded 21st century. Annually ranked among the best universities in the West and among the best values in the entire nation, the university’s eight colleges serve more than 37,500 students. The campus values and is recognized for rich educational opportunities provided by excellent faculty and staff, exceptional degree programs, diversity of its student body, fiduciary and administrative responsibility and the positive contributions faculty, staff, students and more than 300,000 alumni make on society.

About the College of Engineering:
Located in Southern California, near major engineering employers in Los Angeles and Orange counties, the College of Engineering maintains strong connections with industry partners. Its emphasis on practical applications and project-based learning makes graduates highly sought after by industry. The College is known for developing innovators who design and implement practical solutions to meet present and future societal challenges.