Testing Stratos III sub-components

In order to make our rocket, we don’t just need to design and make our components, we also need to test them. TNO is an independent research organization in the Netherlands, stimulating technology and innovation across a wide range of fields. They have offered us a place near the TU Delft where we can test rocket engines in the prototyping phase and validate structural components like our oxidizer tank by testing them under extreme loads. These facilities are hugely helpful to us as we would otherwise need to travel far to be able to test these things.

Testing components to high pressures and firing test engines requires a safe location as these tasks carry inherent risk. There is always a chance of an explosion or rapid decompression, especially during testing. When testing to failure this is even part of the plan. Locations where these tests can be done are rare and often expensive to use. That is why we are very thankful to TNO for letting us use their testing location.

The oxidizer tank after being tested at TNO.

Testing under these extreme conditions is necessary to be able to guarantee that components don’t fail. It is easy to calculate what load a certain component can hold before failing, but that remains a calculation. In the real world different factors come into play, and the only real way to make sure a component will hold is by testing it.

Now that the launch is closely approaching, most component testing is done. There is however no way to see what the system as a whole does until we launch it. Knowing that the individual components can successfully perform their tasks gives us a basis for confidence that the system as a whole will work as well.

by Daan van Heteren