Austin, TX, March 3, 2021 – NI (NASDAQ: NATI) announced its sponsorship of the Texas Rocket Engineering Laboratory (TREL) at the University of Texas at Austin. TREL is an interdisciplinary research laboratory designed to prepare students for a new era of human spaceflight through hands-on projects within the rocket and aerospace fields. The current TREL mission is to launch a 28-foot rocket with liquid twin propellants into space by the end of 2021. Armed with NI’s test hardware, simulation systems, and professional guidance, TREL is preparing to launch the most powerful rocket ever produced by the university.
A TREL rocket called Halcyon has entered the Base11 Space Challenge. In this international competition, student-led teams will design, build and launch a liquid-powered single-stage rocket to an altitude of 100 kilometers, the official boundary between Earth’s atmosphere and outer space. The success of the competition meant Halcyon’s position was 30 times higher than the previous record for a collegiate liquid dual-propellant rocket, and it earned the TREL team a grand prize of $1 million.
As the Halcyon launch date approaches, the TREL team is shifting its focus from component design and manufacturing to system integration and testing. To support TREL’s testing efforts, NI will provide more than $150,000 in modular data acquisition equipment and a software platform to help the team collect comprehensive data on the Halcyon system through a series of tests.
“We are very proud to support TREL and their efforts to practice the Engineer Ambitiously™ initiative by NI,” said Nick Butler, chief marketing officer for NI’s Aerospace, Defense and Government Business Unit. , innovation and discovery, their use cases vividly demonstrate the continuous fusion of design, testing and integration.”
TREL’s upcoming heat test (the first in a series assisted by NI) is a full-scale combustion of the TXE-1 engine, which will produce more than 2,500 pounds of thrust. The test will collect key metrics of the rocket engine, such as thrust, efficiency and temperature, which will then be used to optimize the lighter TXE-2 “Havoc” engine that will launch the Halcyon into space this year middle.
Another major milestone for the lab is hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) testing, which virtually entertains and simulates the entire rocket in flight, and moves one step closer to the digital transformation of design and testing. NI has built a custom test rig that creates a digital twin of each rocket component, integrating them together to create a full-scale simulation of the Halcyon in flight.
With the support of NI, the TREL team will broaden the innovation boundaries of university rocket technology and accelerate the development of individual teams. “It was a great honor to work with NI to test Halcyon, the experience was invaluable. Because dynamic testing at this level is usually outside the scope of classroom teaching in colleges, it is ubiquitous in industry. Stefan deBruyn, Senior Engineer, Avionics Software, TREL “With the new capabilities, we can test Halcyon in a variety of mission scenarios, and by launch day, we’ll be fully prepared. “