Last week we went to Germany with a group of 7 Stratos III members to visit our previous team manager Felix, meet up with another student rocketry team Warr and visit our sponsors MT Aerospace and Winkelmann.
After an early morning of driving, we first arrived at the Sinsheim Museum on our way to Stuttgart. There, we compared the Concorde to the Tupolev, looked at some fancy cars and went to the children simulator where we chased a bad guy with the space police, needless to say: we won. In Stuttgart we met up with Felix Lindemann, the previous team manager of Stratos III. He showed us where he parties in Stuttgart, and after a breakdance battle in a club and a midnight döner, we went to Munich to visit Warr.
Warr is, like DARE, a student rocketry team. They are currently working on a HTPB-LOX hybrid engine that they want to fly on the WARREx3 rocket in the future. Current efforts are mainly focused on testing a small-scale version of this engine. After introducing them to “biem” (if you don’t know the reference check out: https://goo.gl/6rN8Rq) and showing each other some funny confidential footage, we decided to meet up in a restaurant for dinner. Almost everyone had the true German eating experience and ate Haxe with a beer from a 1L glass. After Deacon (Chief Structures – Stratos III) had almost fallen asleep after dinner, we decided to go to the city centre to check out Munich. However, all bars were closed by that time, so after walking in the freezing cold for over an hour, we were back at our hostel where a surprise was waiting for us – there was a stranger sleeping in Jun’s (Lead Electrical Engineer – Stratos III) bed! Jun simply moved to another bed and we all went to sleep.
On Monday we went to Augsburg to visit MT Aerospace, one of our orbital sponsors (check out their website here! https://goo.gl/hFEaCg). They are a manufacturer for components for the Ariane V and the Ariane VI in the future. We presented them how it was going with our project and they gave us a tour around all the facilities. Amongst other things they are producing the booster casings for the Ariane V. To do this, they have huge production halls where the different sections are flow-formed and heat treated and then welded on top of each other to make 11 meter long sections, which are then painted white. The most recognizable machines for our engineers were a lathe and a mill with a diameter as big as the oxidizer tank for Stratos III (4.6 meters), which was quite impressive. On our way from MT Aerospace to a hostel in Stuttgart, we got stopped by the German police. Maybe because we were playing heavy metal very loudly or maybe just because of the fact that we were a bunch of students in a Dutch car. After they checked our van for drugs, we were good to go.
Winkelmann MSR Technology
On Tuesday we visited Winkelmann MSR Technology, another orbital sponsor of Stratos III who makes the cylindrical part of the oxidiser tank liner for us. They are an expert in the production technique called flow-forming (check out their website here! https://goo.gl/HAkQrN). How flow-forming works is you put a piece (usually metal) on mould and turn it while pushing on it with wheels. These wheels cold-form the material into the correct diameter. By reducing the thickness of the tube you increase the length. This way, they can make tubes with high accuracy, which is exactly what we need for our oxidiser tank of 4.6 meters. In the picture you can see us together with Robert Temmann in front of the machine that made the cylindrical tubes for our oxidiser tank. Last week, we successfully tested the 3rd prototype and we are ready to start with the production of our flight tank. Soon we will go to Fokker to weld the endcaps to the cylindrical parts. After welding the endcaps to the cylindrical parts, we will go to Airborne to filament wind carbon fiber around this liner to make it strong enough. And then suddenly half of the length of the Stratos III rocket is produced and we are a big step closer to flight!