Members of the U of MN (extracurricular) Rocket Team, many of whom got their start in rocketry through MN Space Grant freshman seminars, won the Alka-Rocket challenge at the Houston Space Center on Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017. Their rocket, powered by gas produced by alka-seltzer tablets dissolved in water, soared over 400 feet – establishing a new entry for the Guinness Book of World Records. The $25,000 prize will be used by the Rocket Team to support future rocketry projects and competition travel and (maybe) to keep improving the rocket so as to break their own record.
The rocket team’s solution involved using alka-seltzer tablets to pressurize a ground launch chamber which then fired an unpowered projectile, somewhat like a “stomp rocket” (except that it needed to carry electronics to document the height reached and required a recovery system). A related design challenge might be to see who can design the highest-flying fully-self-propelled alka-seltzer powered rocket.