Virginia Tech® home

OLVT provides undergraduates with hands-on experience

Loading player for
Category: research Video duration: OLVT provides undergraduates with hands-on experience
The Orbital Launch Vehicle Team, a student-run organization founded in 2016, aims to become the first collegiate organization to deliver an object into Low Earth Orbit. "This gives us a chance to have real-world engineering experience, that you really don't get just through coursework," says Propulsion Lead Tony DiGregorio.
This is the orbital launch team, a Virginia Tech. Our ultimate goal is to send a rocket to orbit with a five kilogram payload. 5 kg can be really anything we'd want it to be at the time that can fit the dimensions of the rocket. That could be maybe a camera, some avionics, or can give us some telemetry data at that given time. Just something valuable that we can capture. And maybe we could even do payloads for other people at the time. So this team was founded by a group of friends many years ago, and now we have about 70 plus members. The way the team is structured is we have about eight sub teams. Structure is propulsion, launch, OBS, trajectory analysis, and many more. Mostly comprised of students, mostly undergrad. We have some graduate students as well that act as mentors for the team. We have faculty advisors as well to hold it for more than just a student teams kind of almost company working with different levels and tears. Yeah. So currently we're working on the skipper project. Skipper is a transition to in-house manufacturing, lower cost and lead times of building rockets in lab facility here in the ADL, the Advanced Engineering Design Lab. But you will check the goal is skipper is to transition to hokey 0.75 or space shot rocket, which will be the rocket that we use to reach our goal of placing that five kilogram payload into lower corner. You have a clear patch space plan as an estimate, within the next five years will be in space, but they're hokey 0.75 rockets. In the past, I had the pleasure of actually leading a launch out in California. So we traveled out to the Mojave Desert with friends and amateur rocketry and launched at 30,000 ft. There. Just a really great experience, suddenly a little bit of a challenge to find a launch site, but they're definitely available. One major difficult part about this is that we are a student team, so our resources are limited. So that's exactly why we decided to do the skipper project to see how we can build the same types of rockets we were building in the past with a lot more funding and a lot more support, but rather do it in-house in the lab we already have with lower costs and faster lead times. A lot of members are here for the experience. And I definitely came in from the experience. The thing that really made me stay is the fact that we don't have any competition that we're designing for. We're just a group of people who are really passionate about what we do. The goal of sending something to space, honestly, it's just really exciting. I think it's hard not to be excited about that. Just, yeah. I can say firsthand from someone who's been here for four years, that all VT will give you the experience that most college people only dream about. It's one thing to learn everything in class from your professors, but completely other thing to actually put it to work and actually build the rocket capable of reaching thousands of feet and really testing everything you've learned in the classroom. This gives us a chance to have real-world engineering experience that you really don't get just through coursework, along with just like teamwork skills, communication. So all these valuable skill set industries really looking for.