Project Karman



Sub Projects



Project Karman Email List

Project Karman is Northeastern University AIAA’s entry into the University Space Race; an unofficial competition to be the first university to launch a rocket past the Von Karman line of space defined as 100km above sea level. Read more about the project by following the links under the “About the Project” tab on the left.

New Partnership

Project Karman is now partnering with AeroTech and Triton Space Technologies to test methods of igniting our sustainer stage! Read more about it on our home page. The Karman team will be testing this system on our first two stage rocket at LDRS on April 8th!

Successful flight!

The NUSS Lazarus was launched on May 11th at MDRA, with a completely successful test flight. The projected apogee was 1889ft, while the altimeters reported an altitude of 1884ft. The rocket flew perfectly straight in the 15mph winds, and all systems worked as intended, verifying the viability of the experimental CO2 ejection system, and dual deployment using a Tender Descender. The NUSS Lazarus will go on to serve as the sustainer stage to Karman’s first 2-stage test rocket to be flow at LDRS on April 7th 2017.

About the Project

Project Karman has evolved a lot in the past couple years since its inception in the spring of 2015. One of the largest changes is that now we are looking at a two-stage rocket, and an aramid wrap around a carbon fiber body . The main advantages of a two stage configuration is a reduction in cost and complexity over the previous three stage design. The switch to an aluminum body is due to our belief that the aerodynamic stresses will be too much for carbon fiber body. Current simulations show a maximum speed of Mach 5.4, and an apogee of 112 km. Our research suggests that under these conditions, the carbon fiber is likely to delaminate causing destruction of the launch vehicle.


Problems we are working on:

  1. Internal temperature in flight
  2. Aerodynamic forces
    • Are we going to be stable in flight, and would a carbon fiber body delaminate in flight. We are looking into spin stabilization to increase our dynamic stability.
  3. Communication
    • Our belief is that external patch antennas will fail under Mach 5 conditions. We are looking into alternatives such as ceramic body sections and a ceramic nose cone that would allow for radio communication. Additionally an aluminum body was suggested, but communication would be difficult
  4. GPS
    • We are still searching for GPS units which are not under ITAR regulations that prevent operation above 60,000 feet and 1,000 knots or greater. We want to ensure that we will have GPS lock on the rocket through the entirety of the flight, or additionally that we will regain a positive lock on the rocket once it has decelerated to below 1,000 knots as it approaches apogee. This is a critical component as it is the only way for us to verify that we did indeed reach the Karman line.