Rocket Science for Beginners

The last period has been extremely exciting. I had the amazing chance to join DARE for the Small Rocket Project (SRP) project, during which we were given the task to design, build and launch a small rocket. The primary mission was to launch an egg to 1km altitude, and retrieving it back safely. On top of that, we were also given the freedom to work on a secondary mission. My team was called S.O.A.R., and we decided to go for controlled landing for our secondary mission. The team decided to do so by means of a steerable parafoil, controlled by two servos. The servos were remotely controlled from the ground, and in case of lost of visual contact, the rocket was equipped with a small camera that would provide live transmission to the ground. Since one of the requirements was to lift-off and touch-down within 90 seconds, and to remain within a designated safety area, the controlled descent system was designed such that in the worst-case scenario, the rocket would descent in a helix trajectory

The S.O.A.R. team

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Unfortunately, as for the other SRP teams, our pyro charge that was supposed to eject the parachute, did not ignite, and our rocket crashed. The team really put lots of time and effort into this project, especially for our secondary mission, and it was very frustrating not to see it deploy. With all the passion that the team put into it, we really wished to at least see it deploy. Albeit upsetting, we are looking forward to learning what went wrong, so that we, and the future SRPers, can improve on it.

In general, the SRP gave me some valuable knowledge about rocketry, and how various parts have to be designed and built, such that the different subsystem can work together properly to finally form the rocket. In addition, this experience also teaches you how to manage your time to the fullest, so that it can work out perfectly together with my studies. In conclusion, I strongly recommend people that are passionate about rocketry to join, because not only does this society give you the opportunity to work on motivating projects in a vibrant environment, but it also teaches you a lot of new stuff that your study might not teach you.

by Luca Trotta