Donation boosts rocket research at Oklahoma State

Published: Thursday, August 12, 2021 By: Journal Record Staff Source: The Journal Record

Rocket research being conducted at Oklahoma State University was thrust forward recently by a donation received from a Texas aeronautics company.

Berry Aviation, based in San Marcos, Texas, is involved in everything from passenger and cargo transport to intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and conducts about 14,000 global flight and ground operations annually. It’s also interested in trends and technologies that will affect the future of unmanned aerial systems, or UAS.

The company’s donation will boost the work of Kurt Rouser and a team of OSU graduate and undergraduate students conducting research focusing on rapid design, fabrication and testing of high-powered, solid rocket motors with thrust up to 600 pounds. Such rockets are considered critical to the deployment of high-speed UAS.

As part of their research, Rouser and students tailor rockets to accommodate particular UAS platforms based on a vehicle’s weight, desired flight speed at motor burn-out, and maximum g-load. They then mix and cast a rocket’s propellant in order to achieve predicted performance.

Their results are then validated using a mobile ground testing rig.

The program offers relevant learning experience that transcends standard classroom academics and basic lab research, Rouser said. The hands-on engagement with fully realized rockets that hold real commercial potential also equips and inspires students headed for careers in the promising aerospace industry.

“We are very grateful for the support we received from BAI,” Rouser said. “(It) is a force multiplier to the unique rocket research in our aerospace propulsion and power program.”

Berry Aviation currently employs a team of UAS engineers in Stillwater, further accelerating research and fielding new systems. The BAI team partners with OSU in several areas involving autonomy, UAS and counter-UAS development.

Gary Ambrose, the company’s vice president of autonomous systems, said Berry’s relationship with OSU will be ongoing.

“This is just one of the emerging areas we are looking to partner (on) with (the) OSU Unmanned Systems Research Institute and the great group within Mechanical and Electrical Engineering,” he said. “Berry is working with OSU to rapidly develop defense technologies, while providing high-paying employment opportunities for graduating students.”

Berry Aviation President Stan Finch said the research conducted at the university in Stillwater is reflective of a rapidly growing business sector in Oklahoma.

“The technologies being developed are key enablers for both the Department of Defense and Berry Aviation commercial aviation,” he said.

Founded in 1983, Berry Aviation Inc. is a member of Acorn Growth Cos.

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