The story of Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering starts in 2001, when a group of six enthusiastic students from the Vliegtuigbouwkundige studievereniging (VSV) ‘Leonardo Da Vinci’ (the study society of the Aerospace Engineering) formed a committee dedicated to furthering the practical aspects of rocket engineering. Thus “THE DARE” was founded and at the same time became part of NERO, the Dutch Federation for Rocket Research. This was to acquire an entry level of rocketry knowledge and to collaborate on safety during the annual launch day that was held at ASK ‘t Harde, a military range near Amersfoort. The committee is said to have been started after the founders of the society attended a presentation by a NERO member that got them inspired for amateur rocketry.
In the following years the group remained rather small. However, in 2005 it was decided that DARE and another VSV committee, EmoCie, should be brought together in a foundation separate from the VSV: Stichting Universalis. EmoCie was the model airplane committee of the VSV. Both committees worked together for some time in a small workshop in the basement of the building at the Rotterdamseweg 145 in Delft.
The biggest first achievement was the development of the DX-1, short for Delft eXperimental one, the first KNO3 -Sorbitol motor developed as a robust and therefore reusable basis for DARE’s rockets. This successor of this rocket motor is still in use and forms the backbone of most our launch campaigns. In line with its fresh ambitions a lot of projects were started such as regeneratively cooled nitrous oxide (N2O) / ethane (C2H6) liquid rocket engines, which resulted in several tests and several increasingly ambitious publications.
Therefore, two designs are proposed, one theoretical design […], with a thrust of 175 kN, and a more practical one, taking manufacturing limits into account. It is limited by an outer diameter of 350 mm, and has a design thrust level of 35 kN.
IAC-08- C4.3.14, THE DEIMOS III ENGINE CONCEPT, S. Engelen, P. Batenburg, L.J.Souverein.
When after a pilot in 2006-2007 DARE became the provider of CanSat launchers for the annual competition DARE was quickly encouraged to become more professional and streamlined.
With help from prof. Chris Verhoeven, a workshop in the basement of the Electrical Engineering faculty (EWI) was arranged. More solid rocket motors were developed such as the Big Boy and the DX-1. Furthermore, DARE started cooperating with the NAVRO.
The Small Rocket Project (SRP) was started and is still held every year for new members that join DARE along with starting their BSc. studies at TU Delft. Over the course of one year all new members are educated in basic knowledge of rocketry and in teams design, build and launch a small rocket that has to safely transport a raw chicken egg to 1 km altitude and back.
Going further up: Stratos I
In 2007 a number of DARE members decided that it was needed to show what DARE as an organization was capable of. The knowledge was there to start the Stratos project with the goal of breaking the European altitude record for amateur rocketry. This led to the launch of Stratos I in 2009 from Esrange, Sweden. The two-stage KNO3-sorbitol rocket that reached 12.3 km altitude.
Also thanks to this event DARE shortly after this got the official status of a TU Delft Dreamteam and got a new workshop in the Dreamhall, located at Stevinweg 1. In the mean time EmoCie, the counterpart of DARE in Stichting Universalis, became less and less active and it was decided that DARE should become a society of its own. This was realized on the 16th of April 2010.
Stratos II and beyond
After Stratos 1 was launched successfully, it was a logical consequence to continue and the Stratos II project was started. This happened in the spring of 2010. The goal of Stratos II is to carry a scientific payload to an altitude of 50 km. Because the Stratos II project is a major undertaking that brings with it large risks, it was decided to create a separate foundation for projects of this magnitude. Stichting Students To Space was created in 2011 for this purpose.
DARE has approximately 130 ordinary members. Including alumni and extraordinary members this figure is around 210. It has a strong and well-known presence at TU Delft extending well beyond that of the faculty of Aerospace Engineering.
DARE continues to aspire to attain greater achievements in rocketry. With a solid flow of both interested and skillful students we are always looking at pushing the boundary in rocketry. While still just sketches on the drawing board, a scaled-up rocket with a liquid engine as well as a ‘grasshopper’-type vehicle are both long-term ambitions that have been discussed.