UNM mechanical engineering students launch biggest amateur rocket ever built

RIO RANCHO, N.M. (KRQE) – It didn’t matter if it flew for just seconds, just as long as it went up.

It was a big day for a group of University of New Mexico mechanical engineering graduates in Rio Rancho Saturday as they watched months of their hard work culminate into the push of a single button.

“Very exciting,” said one proud mom.

The crowd waited anxiously, perched on top of cars. Hoping to get a glimpse at a significant event in UNM’s history.

“Looking forward to a pretty spectacular launch,” said another spectator.

It’s the largest amateur rocket ever built. The work of UNM mechanical engineering students.

“A lot of long hours,” said Trenton Dean. He’s one of the students behind the rocket. It measures 48 feet tall and just over 250 pounds.

The students already got their grades for this class and they have had their degrees for two weeks already.

But for many, Saturday was another graduation of sorts.

“We’ve still been continuously working on this going to the hanger every day, regardless that we all graduated,” Dean explained.

“If it launches correctly, I’m going to be so happy and so relieved to see it go up and do its job,” Jacob Maestas, UNM graduate said.

Month and months of brain busting calculations, design and fabrication boil down to one moment all before more than a hundred excited spectators.

“It definitely puts the pressure on you because now more than anything want to have a successful launch,” Maestas said.

As the rocket launched, cheers erupted.

“It was a success for 200 feet, it was flying really good for 200 feet,” Professor Fernando Aguilar said. The rocket exploded in the air shortly after launch.

“It was still cool, I mean it was a hell of a show,” Dean said and added that he sees the launch as a success.

The students attribute the explosion to a design flaw.

But, overall they say they’d call the launch a success.

Their professor says he hopes to continue to grow UNM’s engineering program especially in the realm of aerospace

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