Developing a Rocket Remotely

December 11, 2020

This has been a challenging semester for Olin Rocketry, a relatively new project team on campus, also known as “The Fastest Team On Campus”. The team started in 2017 with 5 first years and since then has grown to over 30 members.

The team has been through a number of developing cycles, successfully launching the Phoenix II test vehicle and ground testing our own solid propellant rocket engine Phobos I.

Members of the Olin Rocketry team meet virtually on zoom.

Members of the Olin Rocketry team meet up virtually over Zoom during the September 2020 semester.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the team moved to remote operations in March and has been working through Zoom since then. It has certainly been a new experience to design a rocket with team members in three different continents and 5 different countries.

Due to the fact that our team is relatively new and small, we were able to transition to remote operations in a matter of days and this semester we have had our most productive development phase yet! All of the great foundational work the team had performed over the last two years allowed us to reset the Phoenix III (our 10,000 ft class rocket) development cycle and we are now on track to participate in the 2021 Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC) this summer.

This semester started with recruiting new members from the first year class. Our team roster gained 10 new first years that have impressed everyone on the team with their performance so far. Even with the challenges of COVID we were able to attend 4 local CMASS launch events and launch a total of 6 different rockets. You can find photos and videos on our social pages (listed at the end of this article).

An overhaul in our management operations that resulted from the transition to remote work allowed us to produce results as early as October with our Mission Requirements Review (MRR). The mission requirements and development plans were assessed by a number of aerospace industry professionals and high powered rocketry hobbyists that gave us valuable feedback to continue our development process. With the hard work of all of our team members, we managed to develop a preliminary design of our rocket and presented it in our external Preliminary Design Review (PDR) the first week of December. It has been inspiring to see our team working collaboratively under these new circumstances!

We would like to acknowledge that our team would not be successful without the contributions of our mentors and sponsors. Rocktry’s advisors Jake Felser ‘11 and Professor Jessica Townsend have worked closely with us in navigating the development and testing of our launch vehicles. Our corporate sponsors Autodesk and Blue Origin have supported us with technical mentorship, software tools and the funds we need to develop, build and launch our rockets. Finally, we would like to send a big thank you to everyone in the Olin family, including Students, Alumni, Faculty and Staff that have supported our team in a variety of ways.

To keep up with our team and all the exciting things we will be doing in the coming months, follow us on social media (FacebookInstagramLinkedInYoutube) or visit our website ( For those with the means and desire, we welcome donations of all kinds, please use this link ( and follow the instructions! 

This article was written by Argyris Kriezis ’22 on behalf of the Olin Rocketry Team