SEDS UCSD Successfully Launches Rocket with 3-D Printed Engine

Editor’s Note: I had the privilege of attending the recent SEDS@UCSD launch of the Vulcan-1 rocket. Certainly, the story within the story is the teamwork, dedication and perseverance of this remarkable group of undergraduates. Congratulations to SEDS UCSD!


By Heather Dewis, SEDS UCSD Press Team

UC San Diego, CA – May 22, 2016 — UC San Diego’s Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS UCSD) successfully launched our Vulcan-1 rocket on Saturday, May 21, at the Friends of Amateur Rocketry (FAR) site in Mojave, CA.

We initially experienced some delays, but successfully launched just before 4 p.m. in heavily windy conditions, making us the first university group to design, create, and launch a rocket powered by a completely 3-D printed engine.

Vulcan-1 Rocket Liftoff  (Photo courtesy of SEDS@UCSD and AMazing)

Vulcan-1 Rocket Liftoff (Photo courtesy of SEDS UCSD and AMazing)

Vulcan-1 was 19 feet long and 8 inches in diameter, capable of 750 lb. of thrust. A cryogenic, bi-propellant, liquid-fueled blow down system, the rocket was powered with a combination of liquid oxygen (LOx) and refined kerosene.

The Vulcan-1 project began in 2014 and quickly grew into a team of over 60 student engineers. The team fabricated and tested the rocket at Open Source Maker Labs, a makerspace in nearby Vista, CA which provided equipment and support for the project.  SEDS UCSD also received mentor support from NASA, XCOR, and many other groups in the space industry.

Image courtesy of SEDS@USCD

Illustration courtesy of SEDS USCD Vulcan-1 Team

“This sort of technology has really come to fruition in the last few years. This is proof of concept that if students at the undergraduate level could drive down the costs of building these engines, we could actually fly rockets and send up payload that is cheaper and more efficient,” said Darren Charrier, SEDS UCSD’s incoming president. “One day, we’d like to see this technology being implemented on large-scale rockets, which means that we could send satellites to provide internet for developing countries, we could mine asteroids, perhaps even go colonize Mars.”

Video courtesy of SEDS UCSD/Rohit Ghosh

SEDS UCSD is an undergraduate student-run research group that aims to advance the future of space exploration and development technology.

SEDS has previously garnered media attention for being the first students to design, print, and test a 3-D printed rocket engine. For information about the project’s “hot fire” test, press here.More information can be found at and

seds_logo_smallAbout SEDS USCD
Students for the Exploration and Development of Space (SEDS), USA is a national nonprofit organization with over 60 chapters in universities all across the country. SEDS UCSD is the SEDS branch at The University of California, San Diego and is currently in its fourth year of existence. Since inception, SEDS UCSD has grown into one of the preeminent student groups in the entire country. In 2013, we were the first students to design, print, and test a 3D printed rocket engine, the Tri-D1.  In 2015 SEDS UCSD developed and tested our second 3D printed engine, the Vulcan 1. This engine is 3x as powerful as our first one, and it has a more extensive mission. In 2015, the engine was tested successfully three times, and production of a rocket to fly the engine was put underway.

We had a successful Kickstarter Campaign,2 which passed its funding goal by 46 percent, which funded fabrication of the rocket body. However, we could not have done this without all of our other sponsors3 who have given us everything from part donations to advising help. Once we had the funds, a working engine, and clear plans to build, SEDS UCSD secured a workspace off-campus generously donated by Open Source Maker Labs4 where SEDS received priceless advising help from the staff to make our dream come to fruition.




Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



Please type the text above: