Who we are: A multi-disciplinary, entirely undergrad group looking to advance the new space movement. We seek to make getting to space cheaper and easier than ever before through our research in 3D printing and propulsion technologies.

What we've done:

What we're working on:

Proof: https://news.sedsucsd.org/2017/04/reddit-ama-april-25/ https://twitter.com/SEDS_UCSD/status/856921748867907584

For more information: https://sedsucsd.org/

EDIT: That's it for now, everyone! If you'd like to keep up with what we're doing or ask us more questions, we update Facebook, Twitter, and our website.

If you'd like to help us keep innovating and growing the next generation of aerospace leaders, we encourage you to contribute to our Triteia project and help us get to the moon!

Thanks for your time and ad astra per aspera, The SEDS UCSD Team

Comments: 73 • Responses: 28  • Date: 

jprazak15 karma

What kind of material is the 3D printed engine made out of?

seds_ucsd10 karma

Our rocket thrusters Callan and Vulcan-1 are printed through DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering) in Inconel 718, which is a chromium-nickel alloy. Our first rocket engine, Tri-D, was printed in cobalt chromium.

sandyplager11 karma

Was this for a senior design project? Did Nasa sponser you for the cost?

seds_ucsd9 karma

These aren't senior projects. Our group was started in 2012 by a group of friends at UCSD who just really like aerospace and believed they could advance current liquid propulsion technology through 3D printing. Over the years, we've grown into a full-fledged student organization that takes in first through fourth-year undergrads; these members join in on our project teams and learn their skills from older students.

We have NASA support on the Colossus test stand, as well as the Vulcan-1 engine (which actually just returned from NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center where NASA did some post-flight analysis).

richniggatimeline10 karma

Hey, you guys are awesome, go Tritons. Couple of questions I had:

  • How much did the entire Vulcan-1 project cost?
  • How much do you expect to spend on Triteia?
  • What's your view on the future of commercial space ventures, private satellites, affordable space travel, etc?
  • Do you plan to commercialize any of your innovations?
  • When will Triteia be launch ready?

seds_ucsd5 karma

We estimate that the Vulcan-1 project was about $25,000, not including the sponsored engine.

We expect to spend about $350,000 total on Triteia.

In general, we're pretty excited about these up-and-coming commercial space ventures! We're actually a chapter of a national organization, SEDS USA, which is the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space – which means that most of our members are really excited about this new movement.

We don't have plans to commercialize our projects at the moment, since our focus is on both education and research. Our Colossus test stand is the one that will come closest to commercialization. We'll be seeking clients, but those will be university teams and other student orgs, as part of our mission to drive down the cost of going to space by encouraging innovation. At the moment, we're looking at only asking these groups to fund their own travel and fuel costs.

Triteia is part of the NASA CubeQuest competition, which will select three cubesat entries to fly on its SLS in late 2018. Our current timeline has been documented in accordance with theirs – and if chosen, we will plan for that launch date.

churrrpe9 karma

How did you start learning about building rocket engines?

seds_ucsd11 karma

NASA mentors and lots of library time! Many of us have aerospace or chemistry classes, but most of what we've learned has been through library or online resources – and now, from graduating SEDS members and alumni.

We've been lucky enough to have some NASA mentors who have stuck with us through the years and encouraged our growth. Particularly for our Colossus test stand, our NASA mentors have been invaluable in their guidance with our critical design reviews.

StonerPanda04209 karma

What's the most satisfying/impressive thing you've 3-D printed simply for pleasure? No real scientific applications, just for fun?

seds_ucsd8 karma

One of our favorite things we've 3D printed is a spider that we like to bring to conferences to show the potentials of metal 3D printing!

Here's a picture of it: https://twitter.com/SEDS_UCSD/status/856935028890058752

iwas99x8 karma

Are you a fan of the Houston Rockets(get it?)?

seds_ucsd4 karma

groan Nice one! (although I think we're bigger fans of the SpaceX Rockets)

kajnbagoat8 karma

Wow congrats on the launch first!!

What was the biggest challenge for you guys like do you need special permissions and stuff to launch something that big ?

seds_ucsd6 karma

Thanks! The biggest challenge was definitely time – we launched at the FAR site in Mojave, CA, where the winds pick up in the afternoon. We ran into a few snags and were worried we might have to scrub the launch, but we ended up launching anyway despite the winds. Trying to get everything finalized on-site before the afternoon winds was absolutely the biggest challenge.

kavnav8 karma

What other organizations will utilize the test stand? Do they need to trained/is there any monetary cost?

seds_ucsd4 karma

We're hoping to help out other academic and student organizations to promote aerospace and engineering education!

They won't have to provide anyone trained; our team will do all of the testing. As of now, we're estimating that these groups will only have to pay for fuel.

ominousfire7 karma

This is some cool stuff!

  • Whats the advantage to the cube shape on the satellite over the more "traditional" cyllander with wings? How about disadvantages?

  • I'm assuming that the choice of chemical fuel in your satellite is a massive cost saver (as compared to solar). How long will the fuel last once the cube is active? How does this compare with the traditional lifetime of a satellite?

And lets get a fun one in here:

  • How much of your team enjoys pineapple on pizza?

seds_ucsd10 karma

Thank you! The CubeSat format was designed with packing and deployer space efficiency in mind. The cube shape was chosen because it's much easier to pack multiple cubes on a rocket as opposed to packing cylinders. The cylinder format for larger satellites is designed to fit within the fairing on a cylindrical rocket, and so is the most efficient use of that space.

We chose to design Triteia with a hydrogen peroxide propulsion system (90% concentration) to enable a new mission profile for CubeSats. Current electric/ion drive options would get a cubesat to lunar orbit in weeks to months, while a chemical propulsion system would allow Triteia to reach lunar orbit in a week. The lifespan of our fuel is based on required station keeping. Our astrodynamics team has designed an orbit that is stable for 400 days, after which we would be able to extend the mission lifespan by a few more months.

As for pineapple on pizza, we put it to a vote in our group chat. We're split half and half, and now tensions are rising.

estellaria7 karma

How and when did your organization originate?

Also, as an aspiring accountant, I'm interested in how you manage finances for your projects.

seds_ucsd9 karma

We started in 2012 as a group of friends who wanted to tackle the challenge of using additive manufacturing to create a better liquid rocket engine. The last of that original group graduated just last year and are now working in the industry. We've continued researching and creating 3D printed engines, and as interest in our student org has grown, so have our projects – from the single Tri-D engine project to our multiple current projects and nearly 90 members.

We have a business team that takes care of finances, graphics, and marketing. Like the way we recruit engineering majors for real-world experience, we recruit economics and management science majors to manage our finances. We are mostly funded by sponsorships, so some of it is negotiating those then making sure our parts procurement is within the budget. Our business team has also been working on crowdfunding for our cube satellite project, Triteia, so we can purchase some of the crucial parts!

do_you_even_lurk7 karma

Cool stuff, guys! When I was an undergrad at CU Boulder, I was part of a team that used a similar laser sintering technique to make the first recorded 3D printed solid rocket fuel. Have you guys ever dabbled in printing nozzles for SRBs? It would be awesome to be able to print an entire propulsion system. That's where this type of technology needs to go!

seds_ucsd5 karma

That's really cool, /u/do_you_even_lurk! We haven't dabbled in that; we're still pretty focused on just liquid engines and injector plates. Printing an entire propulsion system would be neat!

do_you_even_lurk5 karma

Honestly, printing a nozzle would be a cake walk compared to a full liquid engine. Pretty much the only consideration would be the expansion ratio. Have you done any fatigue/cycle analysis on your printed engine vs. a traditionally manufactured engine? That research could be an undergrad research project on its own, but I'm curious if you've looked at it. Longevity and reliability is a big concern pushing into the future of space technologies.

seds_ucsd2 karma

We've done fatigue/cycle analysis with just our printed engines and they undergo fatigue/cycle analysis by going through repeated cold flows and water flow analysis.

And for sure – we're definitely looking into reliability and reusability with our technology. We recovered the engine in one piece after the launch and just received it back from Marshall Space Flight Center where NASA did some post-flight analysis and testing on it.

do_you_even_lurk3 karma

That is so cool! I love this whole project. Do you have plans to carry the project forward, either yourselves or handing it off to a new group of students?

seds_ucsd2 karma

We're focusing on this technology as a club, but it manifests itself in different variations and projects – a 3D printed thruster for our cubesat's chemical propulsion system, or a rocket engine test stand that will support liquid rocket engine innovation in academic groups across the west coast. Our goal at the moment is to remain true to the idea of making getting to space cheaper and easier, especially through additive manufacturing/3D printing, and our hope is that every new class of SEDS members will keep that mission in mind when deciding what new projects our group will take on. And as we have in the past, each new class of students will help with the current projects (as we have graduating seniors), but will be the future of the club and will be instrumental in determining our future research and engineering.

knoppix477 karma

do you own the printer or do you outsource the printing?
What printer do you use?
Any thoughts on 3D printed hybrid rocket engines? (printed part as fuel)

seds_ucsd6 karma

Hi! We don't own a printer, nor do we have access to a metal 3D printer on campus. Our sponsors, GPI Prototype (Vulcan) and MTI (Triteia) print iterations at their locations, then send them to us so we can test them. As for thoughts on hybrid rocket engines, we're putting the question out to some our team – we'll update when we get some answers!

tachyon796 karma

What are the pros/cons of 3D printing these kinds of parts? How much more efficient is it than not using 3D printing technologies? Thank you!

seds_ucsd8 karma

There are tons of pros to 3D printing engines! Traditional manufacturing methods are more expensive, time-intensive, and are more prone to mistakes.

Benefits of 3D printing engines:

  • we can make more precise, intricate designs that would be nearly impossible with traditional manufacturing (especially with our injector plates)

  • it's quicker – setting up a printer and leaving it to get to work is easier than recruiting an entire team to manufacture it, and it only takes about a week (for our Vulcan engine, 10 inches).

  • it's cheaper – compared to the time and manpower needed for traditional rocket engines, our 3D printed ones are much cheaper – less that $100,000 for Vulcan, and less than $50,000 for Callan, our cube sat thruster.

Because of 3D printing, we've been able to turn our time and energy to other things, like playing with potential injector plate patterns, developing new projects, and making our other subsystems the best they can be!

iwas99x6 karma

Did you play with Estes model rockets as a kid?

seds_ucsd4 karma

A fair number of our members did play with model rockets, but we're not sure if they were Estes.

alphaboosttt6 karma

Do you think ordering TapX's popcorn chicken is a questionable decision?

seds_ucsd4 karma

If you want to order it, we'll support you all the way!

iwas99x5 karma

What is everyone's career goals?

seds_ucsd2 karma

A lot of us are looking to work at space companies, like SpaceX or Virgin Galactic, or at places like NASA. Some of us are looking to go into similar industries, like robotics or AI, or even create start-ups.

iwas99x5 karma

What is everyone's majors?

seds_ucsd4 karma

We have all sorts – from mechanical/aerospace/structural engineers, to computer science, to physics, to economics!

iwas99x5 karma

Have you all been to any NASA facilities for tours or special treatment?

seds_ucsd2 karma

We try to arrange for our members to go on pre-professional tours of aerospace facilities as much as we can! It's a great way to keep ourselves excited about the industry and keep up with all the cool projects NASA and space companies are working on.

iwas99x5 karma

When do you think NASA will finally have the replacement for the space shuttle ready and in use?

seds_ucsd4 karma

You would have to direct that question to NASA!

SolX20105 karma

What is the best spec / fun thing about the radio you are using to communicate with the CubeSat?

seds_ucsd6 karma

We're using a SWIFT XTS Tethers radio. We like that it's modular, so we can add different band cards and change radio frequency easily, as well as its full software library and extensive documentation, so integrating it into our satellite system has been really easy. The Tethers team has also been incredibly supportive of our Triteia project and our group!

iwas99x5 karma

How often are you all on Reddit and what are your favorite subreddit?

seds_ucsd6 karma

Not too often – we're usually either in class or working on our projects! When we do get a chance, /r/rocketry and /r/SpaceX are fun ones.

iwas99x5 karma

What awards and trophies did you get?

seds_ucsd6 karma

We have a number from SpaceVision, which is put on by SEDS USA and is the largest student-run space conference in the country. In recent years, we've won Best Chapter and Best Technical Project out of the chapters attending.

iwas99x4 karma

Do you think you can have an animal astronaut on board your next rocket? Maybe like a mouse, or rat?

seds_ucsd3 karma

We're pretty inclined to leave the living cargo to the big aerospace players at the moment.

seds_ucsd3 karma

Indeed we did – we're fans!

iwas99x3 karma

Do you have YouTube videos of your rockets?

seds_ucsd3 karma

soupinme3 karma

First off, this sounds really fun. Second, how does one join SEDS?

seds_ucsd2 karma

It's one of the best experiences we've ever had! SEDS UCSD accepts applications from current UCSD students during our recruitment periods. We post all information about recruitment events and application deadlines on our Facebook page, so be sure to keep up with us there!