What is SARP?

As the University of Washington’s student-run rocketry organization, we design, construct, test, and launch a hybrid engine rocket from the ground up every year. We participate in the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association’s (ERSA) Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC). In this competition, we have the chance to show what our rocket can do alongside 95 other teams from around the world. In 2018, we placed first in the highest altitude category at 30,000 feet with a student-researched and designed propulsion system.

Who are we?

We are students at the University of Washington from all corners of academic experience. Students apart of this team can expect to gain practical hands-on experience that most other students won’t have the opportunity to get while working in countless areas: manufacturing, design software, avionics, testing, management, fundraising, and much more. A time-intensive project like this with a significant amount of individual contribution requires each member to be responsible for their work; however, there will always be experienced members on the team to help the newer members along the way. The students involved on this team have the opportunity to develop their skills and put them to the test in an high-performing environment similar to what is seen after graduation.

What kind of rockets do we build?

From the 2019-2020 development year to now, SARP is continuing to develop and test systems on our liquid bi-propellant rocket, Pacific Impulse. The rocket uses a liquid nitrous oxide oxidizer and an ethanol fuel.

In previous years, SARP has developed hybrid rockets with nitrous oxide as an oxidizer and a solid paraffin fuel grain. From the 2018-2019 development year, the body of the rocket, from nose cone tip to the bottom of the fin can, was over 14 feet long and was designed to reach a speed of Mach 1.3. The rocket is designed to launch a payload, reach 30,000 feet, and be recovered after the flight.

About our team

SARP is organized into five overarching teams: Structures, Avionics, Payload, Propulsion, and Business. A team member will typically be involved in one of these teams throughout the year. We need team members from ALL majors, so whether you’re studying electrical engineering, marketing, computer science, or communications, we want you to apply. If you would like to learn more about what each team does, take a look at the descriptions below, or feel free to contact us!

Under each team title, we have indicated that team’s purpose and responsibilities. Furthermore, there is a list of skills and experiences which students have the opportunity to grow while working on that specific team – we have people at all skill levels in SARP!


Purpose: To provide the rocket with body tubes, rocket, fins, and couplers that will withstand multiple flights.


  • Instron testing of composite coupons
  • Design and build nosecone, improving weight and cost compared to the previous year
  • Design and manufacture fins
  • Design and manufacture couplers to meet the needs of other teams
  • Understand and model stability of the rocket
  • Develop data reductions and model rocket for wind tunnel testing

Skills: Machining including, but not limited to, lathe, mill, drill press, Hands on composite manufacturing including carbon and glass fiber, 3D printing, Use of RasAero and/or Open Rocket, Instron testing, CAD, CFD, FEA

Structures Projects: 

  • Nose Cone: Produce a 47in.  ½ power series cone out of fiberglass prepreg, wet layup, and infusion layup methods.
  • Payload Coupler: Develop and manufacture an aluminum machined connection point between the uppermost body tube and the nose cone that also mounts the rocket’s research payload and the recovery hardpoint.
  • Airframes: In charge of all body tubes on the rocket that are manufactured out of carbon fiber and fiberglass prepreg.
  • Recovery Coupler: Develop and manufacture an aluminum machined connection point that houses a majority of the avionics equipment while also providing structural resistance to rocket buckling and bending failure.
  • Fins: Produce Carbon Fiber fins with internal hex-core mounted onto a body tube to provide rocket stability during flight.
  • Nose Cone Ejection: Develop and assemble a recovery subsystem that ensures the deployment of the uppermost section of the rocket which furthermore actuates the parachute deployment.
  • Parachute Stage Separator: Develop a separation device that initiates the actuation of the main parachute at a specified altitude after being slowed by the drogue chute.
  • Parachutes: Design and sew a drogue and main parachute that are utilized to ensure a safe decent and recovery of the entire rocket after burnout and apogee.


Purpose: Develop a robust data collection system for all necessary in-flight rocket data and design and develop payload to meet competition requirements.


  • Implement pressure and temperature sensors by the needs of other teams
  • Communicate with the rocket over radio frequency (RF) to remote fill, initiate launch systems, and collect positioning data
  • Design and implement an interface to consolidate incoming data at ground station
  • Design and develop

Skills: Programming, particularly in C and python, Linux commands, Basic circuitry, Signal processing

Avionics Projects:

  • Autonomous Recovery Experimental System (ARES): Autonomously fly a guided full-scale payload to a landing site.
  • Flight Data: Design and produce a flight data board
  • Ground Control: Develop a reliable, highly functional ground control software system with OpenMCT
  • Launch Operations: Complete development of propulsion and fill controllers to remotely complete fill and ignition during testing and launch.
  • Networks & Communications: Produce a solution to reliably connect all computers on & off the rocket and support live pad video.
  • Testbed: Develop a thermal chamber and hardware-in-the-loop I/O box and software to interface with Launch Ops and Flight Data controllers.


Purpose: Develop and build a drone to integrate with on-board systems and deploy on rocket descent.


  • Develop electrical, control, and structural systems for the drone.
  • Integrate payload components with rocket structures.
  • Simulate rocket flights and test deployment of payload.
  • Research and procurement of sensors and materials for payload.

Skills: CAD, Machining, 3D printing, Basic circuitry, programming, Inter-team communication

Payload Projects:

  • Structures: This group will be responsible for constructing the mechanical aspects of the rocket launched drone.
  • Electronics: This group will be responsible for designing the circuitry and electronic controls of the drone.
  • Controls: This group will be responsible for writing the software and control algorithms that allow the drone to fly and deploy safely.


Purpose: To provide the rocket with safe, efficient, and reliable propulsion to achieve an altitude of 30,000 feet.


  • Rocket motor development (including but not limited to chemical composition and filling/igniting mechanisms)
  • Development of reliable rocket performance modeling
  • Reduce the cost of rocket with conservative static tests and light parts
  • Work with avionics to embed sensors in the motor for temperature and pressure measurements
  • Static testing the propulsion system at a remote test site

Skills: CAD, MATLAB, P&ID, Labview, FEA, CFD, Manufacturing: manual lathe and mill, Test Engineering, Integration, Design – rocket motor/fluid systems/test facilities/structures

Propulsion Projects:

  • COPVs (Composite Overwrapped Pressure Vessels): Dedicated to the development and testing of COPV tanks for use on a bi-propellant rocket system.
  • Metal Tanks: A project in charge of designing, manufacturing, and testing metal pressure vessels for use on the bi-propellant rocket.
  • System Interconnects: Designs and assembles the internal propellant routing within the rocket along with propellant injection actuation valve systems.
  • Valve Bay Structures: In charge of manufacturing the bulkheads and supporting pillars between all propellant tank interfaces.
  • Ignition: Responsible for designing, manufacturing, and testing ignition methods for our bi-propellant engine.
  • Thrust Chamber Assembly: In charge of designing and manufacturing the propellant injector, thermal protections system, combustion chamber, and nozzle of the rocket engine.
  • Remote Fill: Develops and manufactures a remotely controlled propellant feed system from the bottle supply to the rocket.
  • Ground Ops: Dedicated to ensuring the team is capable of static firing and launching through the development of support infrastructure such as test stands and launch rails.
  • Regenerative Cooling R&D: Develop a regeneratively cooled rocket engine prototype with a heavy emphasis on thermal analysis currently.


Building a rocket requires the team to remain proactive with administrative support. Without funding, materials, material budgeting, budget forecasts, campus and community promotion, or future team members, there is no rocket. The business team maintains these aspects SARP, and helps support the technical teams. Experience on the business team may consist of working with companies to navigate sponsorship, reaching out around campus to promote the team, planning and organizing fundraisers, managing the documentation of each of the technical teams, financial analysis of past and future budgets and team spending, and generally being a liaison between the technical aspects of SARP and the community. This team is comprised of engineering and business students who are dedicated to supporting the financial, marketing, and community outreach aspects of building a rocket. Those on this team have the opportunity to maintain flexible roles in both business and technical teams.

Business Initiatives

  • Design: Create graphic designs for the SARP logos, merchandise, website, and social media.
  • Social Media / Outreach: Ensure consistent and effective communication of SARP work through social media.
  • Photography / Video: Document both technical and member development on SARP and create videos to share.
  • Finance: Handles sponsorship communication and budgeting/purchasing on the team.
  • Member Events / Relations: Develop events to connect the SARP community and organize the end-of-year SARP rocket unveiling event.

Pacific Impulse – 2019-2020

Currently in development, navigate to Rocket > Pacific Impulse for information on the current design.

Boundless – 2018

Big Dawg – 2017

Hybrid Rocket III – 2016


Hybrid Rocket II – 2015


Hybrid Rocket I – 2013


STEVe – 2009