© 2021 Maine Public
header.jpg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Maine

First Biofuel-Powered Rocket Set To Launch From Limestone With Student-Designed Project Aboard

_121__Stardust_1_0_Launch_-_YouTube.jpg
bluShift Aerospace
/
YouTube
bluShift Aerospace is set to launch the Stardust prototype sounding rocket from the Loring Commerce Centre in Limestone, Maine, marking the world's first commercial launch of a rocket powered by bio-derived fuel.

Limestone is to be the site of a test flight Friday of the first rocket powered by a biofuel. And a sensing device developed by Falmouth High School students will be aboard.

The students have used a product called XinaBox that provides the miniature sensors and other components. Student Libby Greenlaw says their work pushed the gear in new and different ways.

“Some of these problems never occurred for them before. We’re special like that. We just have the ability to make countless problems occur that should not be happening, but it’s been great along the way,” Greenlaw says with a laugh.

For this first rocket flight, the students will measure atmospheric conditions like humidity and air pressure. For student Carissa Lucas, the project has already yielded important data about her future and what it may be like.

“It’s opened up the possibility for going into engineering in college, but, more than that, it kind of made me realize the importance of research and how long it takes to do that,” she says.

bluShift Aerospace, which will launch the rocket, plans for the rocket’s engine to burn for 11 seconds, long enough to send the rocket, and its student-created payload, to an altitude of about 4,000 feet.

The Falmouth students’ next project is a small satellite called a cube sat, which will be designed to detect algal blooms on Maine lakes. It’s expected to ride into orbit on a cargo flight to the International Space Station scheduled for March of next year.