Student Rocket Makes It To Space

Where does the Earth’s atmosphere stop and space begin? It is tempting to take the approach Justice Potter Stewart did for pornography when judging a 1964 obscenity case and say “I know it when I see it.” That’s not good enough for scientists, though. The Kármán line is what the World Air Sports Federation (FAI) defines as space. That line is 100 km (62 miles or about 330,000 feet) above sea level. A recent student-built rocket — Traveler IV — claims to be the first entirely student-designed vehicle to pass that line.

The students from the University of Southern California launched the rocket from Spaceport America in New Mexico. The new record is over twice as high as the old record, set by the same team. The rocket reached approximately 340,000, although the margin of error on the measurement is +/- 16,800 feet, so there’s a slight chance they didn’t quite cross the line.

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3D Mineral Printer

The last few days many people have been talking about the USC’s contour printer. It’s a device that prints concrete outlines with the hopes of eventually printing entire houses. Caterpillar has decided to back the initiative.

It reminded us of a project we came across at Maker Faire. [Leif Ames], [Matthew Bowman], [Marides Athanasiadis], and [Terrell Edwards] built a 3D Mineral Printer as their senior engineering design project at UC Santa Cruz. The printer works by first laying down a layer of dry concrete powder. It then selectively wets the powder where it wants a solid form. The reaction doesn’t require air to dry, so the next layer can be applied immediately. The printer only creates contours and the team imagines this being used to create temporary casting molds. The build envelop is nearly a cubic meter. When we talked to them, they were experimenting with many different types of material mixes. A video of the first test is after the break. Continue reading “3D Mineral Printer”