Project Cygnet: an ambitious goal to reach the stars

The titular name of our project, "Cygnet", is derived from the name of the vessel used by 17th century pirate Charles Swan and explorer William Dampier. In the spring of 1686, Dampier set sail on the Cygnet on what would become the first of his three circumnavigations of the Earth. Purdue Orbital follows in his footsteps by attempting to become the first collegiate organization to launch a payload into space, which would orbit the Earth multiple times to bring the stars a little closer to everyone.


SPRING 2019: finalizing hapsis I

Throughout the spring semester of 2019, we continued efforts designing physical systems and acquiring components used for our launch. Our Design and Manufacturing teams worked in the Bechtel Innovation and Design Center (BIDC), which offers student teams an open workspace for construction of various subsystems. Our Enterprise sub-team networked with a variety of stakeholders from both technical and corporate disciplines. We networked with Raven Aerostar, a manufacturer of the high altitude balloon used in our launch. The details were finalized in May with funding arriving through a generous grant from the Former Head of AAE (School of Aeronautics and Astronautics) Dr. Tom Shih. Our mission would not be possible without the generous contributions of Dr. Shih and the many other professors and departments who support our organization, and we are thankful for their assistance throughout this endeavor.

Fall 2018: Birth of HAPSIS

In the fall of 2018, we accelerated our progress, growing our organization and networking with relevant strategic partners. Our structural design was produced in a digital format, and construction of a physical launch structure was developed. Furthermore, we addressed our documentation, developing a media kit for corporate sponsorships. This was a grassroots effort with many members contributing to the documentation. Orbital also addressed the launch environment both internally and externally, enabling further research and development.

Spring 2018: Rocket Certification

Much progress was made with the Commercial Rocket team, certifying four members to Level 1. In collaboration with the AIAA High Altitude Balloon team, a flight test was conducted that achieved an altitude of 27 km, providing valuable data for drift analysis.

Fall 2017: High Altitude Balloon Flight

The team underwent major organization and technical growth with a large increase in membership and a restructuring of the technical teams. This semester initiated the development of the orbital launch system, most notably the zero-pressure polyethylene balloon, experimental rocket development, and commercial rocket certification for test purposes.

Spring 2017: Launch Orientation Control Test

Spring 2017 saw detailed design and manufacturing of our complete Launch Orientation and Control System and High Altitude Lift System. Additionally, work continued into our communications and control systems and a primary investigation into hybrid rocket motors was completed. The semester concluded with testing of our Launch Orientation and Control system as well as the High Altitude Lift system. A test flight was completed off of the Launch Orientation and Control system yielding important operational and functional data that will be invaluable in the future.

Fall 2016: Foundational Systems

Fall 2016 saw detailed design work into the first half of our Launch Orientation and Control System as well as early work into our computer simulations and communications system. The semester culminated in  a test flight of our DX3 XL rocket off of a custom built test stand. The tests were successful and returned much information that will help us create a safe and effective system in the coming semesters. 

April, 2016: Ground Launch Test

Orbital's first large system test of Project Cygnet occurred on April 17, 2016. The team traveled to Three Oaks, Michigan to test the custom designed electronics package inside a DX3 XL rocket frame with a CTI M3700 motor. The launch and recovery were a complete successes and all mechanical and electronic systems performed as designed.

Fall 2015: Purdue Orbital is Founded

Under the name of the IEEE Purdue Rocket Team, Orbital was started by ten aerospace engineering students with the ambitious goal of bringing innovation to the CubeSat market. From there, Project Cygnet was borne with the mission of using balloon-launched rockets (rockoons) to achieve orbit like no one has done before.