PMHS alum Nathan Tahbaz leads team with hopes of breaking collegiate rocket record


Since his time at Pelham Memorial High School, alum Nathan Tahbaz has always been interested in the way things work. Now a graduate of the Stevens Institute of Technology, Tahbaz pursued this passion while on an engineering path. To conclude his education, Tahbaz is leading a team for his senior capstone project, Castle Point Rocketry: An attempt to be the first collegiate team to send a liquid powered rocket to the Karman Line, an altitude of 100 kilometers above sea level.

To accomplish a feat this big, the team started the building process last May. Over the past year, they have designed a rocket complete with an innovative 3D printed engine. In addition to their primary goal of reaching the Karman Line, the team strived to develop a small and affordable launch vehicle to capitalize on the demand for reliable ways to lift small payloads. 

“The project has taken a ton of time, more than a full-time job would,” Tahbaz said. “We’ve all had to learn a ton, but it’s been incredibly rewarding.”

The team plans to run a test launch within the next month and perform an official launch in July. The current collegiate record is held by the University of Southern California.

“Our team is still intent on achieving our goals and thus becoming the first collegiate team to launch a liquid rocket past the Karman Line,” Tahbaz said.

To fund the $500,000 project, Castle Point Rocketry partnered with top aerospace companies and academic mentors at the pinnacle of their fields, among other knowledgeable individuals. The team tied for first place at the Ansary Entrepreneurship Competition this May, where they received $7,500 in prize money. This money will cover the transportation fees to and from the launch site.

Tahbaz said leading the project has been a learning experience.

“The responsibility has definitely been stressful,” he said. “But it’s helped me figure out where I want to go with my career. Overall, it’s been a positive experience.”

Tahbaz is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in space systems engineering at Stevens.

“I’ve always loved working on projects, be it on my own or for school,” Tahbaz said. “The engineering design courses at Stevens helped build that interest, but my favorite projects have always been self-motivated.”

To learn more about Castle Point Rocketry, visit their website.