Research Team Prototypes Spacecraft Propelled by Water

What would you explore if you owned your own spacecraft? The rings of Saturn? The surface of Mars? Research conducted by Cornell University’s Cislunar Explorers could soon make these dreams a reality. By trying to create a spacecraft capable of using water as rocket fuel, Prof. Mason Peck, mechanical and aerospace engineering, and his team of engineers, hopes to revolutionize space exploration.

Student Team Designs Water-Propelled Satellite for NASA Launch Competition

“Shoot for the moon” may be an expression, but for the students working with Prof. Mason Peck, mechanical and aerospace engineering, it could also become a reality. Currently in the top five teams participating in the NASA competition known as CubeQuest, the “Cislunar Explorers” are working to create a satellite capable of orbiting the moon that demonstrates new methods of propulsion and navigation through space. “Ph.D. students and undergraduates with me have the opportunity to engage in basic research that Cornell’s known for and also build something that’s never been flown,” Peck said. “I’m serious when I say flying your senior project is something we do here. And Cornell’s one of relatively few institutions where this is commonplace.”
Hitching a Ride
In 2018, NASA will launch a spacecraft known as the Space Launch System, primarily to test the Orion capsule, which is planned to be the first U.S. human-flight spacecraft since the retirement of the Space Shuttle.