Illinois State to host rocket landing competition
Illinois State University will host a vertical rocket landing competition on Saturday morning at the school’s adventure center on Gregory Street.
ISU will field a team of participants in several areas of study to attempt landing a rocket dropped from several meters in the air as close to the target zone as possible, while the rocket is still standing upright.
Teams are expected to design most components of their model rockets and run simulations to test the viability of their approach. The teams aren’t provided with the onboard engines until the day of the competition for safety purposes.
Real rockets have begun attempting to land this way, called vertical takeoff, vertical landing or VTVL for short. As the rocket separates in the atmosphere, it uses cold gas to reorient itself and eventually land vertically back on Earth.
McDonnell Douglas launched the first VTVL rocket in the 1990s, but it was never intended to reach orbit. More recently, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has become the face of semi-reusable rockets.
The competition, funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, will see teams from Illinois State, Bradley, Purdue, and the University of Illinois compete for the best landing.