SpaceLex, UK’s rocketry and propulsion team, takes 1st place at national competition

LEXINGTON, Ky. (July 11, 2024) — SpaceLex, the University of Kentucky Stanley and Karen Pigman College of Engineering’s student-led rocketry team, won first place at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR-51025UNL) competition in the Mojave Desert in Randsburg, California.

SpaceLex is an ambitious team of rocketry enthusiasts dedicated to pushing the boundaries of aerospace technology and education.

The team’s rocket, “Meridian,” marked SpaceLex’s debut in the realm of launch competitions, which was made possible by the generous support of sponsors, such as the Pigmans.

The team began building Meridian more than two years ago, but winning a national competition has been the goal since SpaceLex was founded in 2019.

“This year was a full circle moment,” said Ryan Kodura, the SpaceLex’s outgoing president. “And we finally got to do all the things we wanted to do.”

SpaceLex’s innovative approach to the “Meridian” project included the integration of 3D-printed fins, a water ballast system and real-time video streaming from within the rocket.

“Our team was at this competition to learn, and I’m thankful for the challenges we faced, because they’ll give us something to learn from in the future,” Lucas Stevenson, SpaceLex’s current president, continued. “We can apply what we learned to our next rockets and to the development of the club. I hope to use our success at FAR to establish SpaceLex as a force in the competitive rocketry community and keep other teams interested in what we’ll do next.”

Members of SpaceLex also had the opportunity to design, build and launch their own rockets for L1 and L2 certification. These certifications allow participants to advance their personal skills as engineers and utilize more advanced technology on the team’s rockets.

Additionally, the SpaceLex team has absorbed invaluable knowledge from mentors, including Peter Tarlé, president of the Music City Missile Club, who coordinates the local launches and guides them throughout the construction process.

“With Meridian being a success, it gave us the confidence to create more optimized designs,” said Rayan Pasha, member of SpaceLex. “It also allowed us to explore highly valued topics, such as 3D-printed parts, for high-powered rockets.”

SpaceLex team members who contributed to this year’s competition include:

  • Yousuf Al-Azzawi, a mechanical engineering senior from Memphis, Tennessee (Lewis Honors College);
  • Michael Buschle, a materials engineering graduate;
  • Perry Calvert, a mechanical engineering senior from Shelbyville, Kentucky;
  • Grace Hiner, an aerospace engineering sophomore from Lexington;
  • Ryan Kodura, a civil engineering graduate from Plainfield, Illinois;
  • Christian Lauritzen, a mechanical engineering senior from Lexington;
  • Milen Mikov, an electrical engineering junior from Lexington;
  • Hersch Nathan, an electrical engineering and theatre junior from Avon, Indiana (Lewis Honors College);
  • Rayan Pasha, an aerospace engineering senior from Lexington;
  • Kylie Schmidt, a mechanical engineering senior from Lexington (Lewis Honors College);
  • Tatum St. Clair, a marketing and business senior from Shepherdsville, Kentucky;
  • Lucas Stevenson, an aerospace engineering senior from Crestwood, Kentucky; and
  • Cayenne Warren, a materials engineering sophomore from Pendleton, Kentucky.

You can learn more about SpaceLex here.

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