The Yellow Jacket Space Program propulsion team is responsible for developing a liquid rocket engine capable of launching Karman-1 to an altitude of 120km. The propulsion team designs and builds all components downstream of the propellant tanks including the propellant feed system, injector, combustion chamber, and nozzle. Our team also develops any necessary ground testing apparatuses and procedures.

Members: Mike Van Akin (Development Team Lead) | Suraj Buddhavarapu (Testing Team Lead) | Trenton Charlson | Wes Gillman | Akhil Gupta | Jordan Marshall | Bishop Wright

Interested in joining Propulsion? Apply here!

Current Engine Design:

The liquid engine in development for Karman 1 is designed to use Jet-A as fuel and Liquid Oxygen as an oxidizer. The design thrust is 15kN and the chamber pressure is 800psia. The chamber and nozzle are regeneratively cooled with the Jet-A. The revision 1 injector utilizes an impinging unlike triplet pattern but a Pintle variant is in the works. Pictured below is a preliminary rendering of the engine

Liquid rocket engine development is a complicated endeavor, and as a result, the propulsion team is designing an engine to be fired on the ground first. Design modifications such as a change in nominal thrust may be necessary for the engine used on Karman 1. However, the lessons learned on the ground tests are essential to the success of the flight.


The first propulsion test was conducted on April 12th, 2017. Jet-A was supplied through a 3 inch diameter triplet injector element. The injector element was machined by Trenton and Suraj out of 6061 Aluminum. Both the oxidizer and fuel orifices were supplied with Jet-A. One orifice was tested at a time to determine mass flow rates at variety of pressures. Following those three tests, Jet-A was supplied to all three orifices to examine the impingement. The flow through the oxidizer orifices was modified to achieve the nominal hot fire volumetric flow rate of nitrous oxide.