Designed and manufactured over the course of the 2016-2017 NASA Student Launch season, "Typhon Heavy" was River City Rocketry's most sophisticated and powerful rocket ever built. The rocket, weighing 51lbs and standing 12 feet tall, produced 700lbs of thrust and experienced 15 g’s during liftoff, accelerating the rocket to 560mph in 2.3 seconds. Manufactured entirely in-house, the vehicle is constructed from custom filament wound carbon fiber components. The rocket carried a dynamic apogee-targeting airbraking system, an autonomous multirotor payload designed for target detection and upright landing, and 4 custom parachutes manufactured by the team.
The rocket was flown for its fifth and final time at NASA competition launch on April 8th, 2017. The rocket reached an apogee of 5,303 feet, a mere 23 feet from the team’s target altitude of 1 mile, making it one of the most accurate flights in the team’s 6-year history. The design and flight performance of Typhon Heavy earned NASA's Best Vehicle Design Award, and landed the team a 1st place finish against 40 other teams.
The vehicle's nosecone consists of a customized LD-Haack geometry, optimized for the vehicle's 0.7 Mach ascent. The carbon fiber nose cone was manufactured in-house through a series of castings, using a combination of positive and negative fiberglass molds to achieve the most efficient surface finish possible.
The upper recovery bay carries the parachutes, harnessing, and deployment systems responsible for deploying the payload and recovering the nosecone and forward section of the vehicle. A custom cruciform drogue and toroidal main parachute are stowed in this section, harnessed by an ARRD quick-release and deployed by PerfectFlite Stratologger altimeters.
Payload Recovery Bay
The deployment bay is responsible for housing the multirotor payload during launch until upper section main parachute deployment. The multirotor payload, folded and stowed inside the deployment bay, is retained via nylon shear pins during flight. Upon main parachute deployment, opening force of the parachute causes the nylon pins to shear, deploying the multirotor payload.
The multirotor payload, while folded and stowed, doubles as a carbon fiber coupler tube capable of withstanding and transferring flight loads between the forward section and booster of the vehicle during ascent. Deployed at 1000 feet under parachute during the recovery of the vehicle, the payload’s spring-loaded arms and legs are actuated to flight configuration. Once separated from its deployment parachute, the payload is capable of autonomous flight and upright landing following target detection.