DARE Minor 2017-18

Current status of the minor

Over the past few months, the 8 members of the minor have been working on a variety of reports. Before the summer holiday, the minor had a pre-start with the literature study. A report was written before the start of the summer holiday. After the summer, the team worked on the conceptual design. In this report, the different types of systems where elaborated upon and a general plan for the minor was made. Furthermore, the Phoenix engine was redesigned for use of the minor. Instead of a 1kN, 4-second burn the Phoenix+ has a 400 Newton, 10-second burn. This longer burn time was needed to properly test the mechanism in multiple directions within one test. In the 2.5 weeks after, the preliminary design was done. In this report, it was decided to go for Mechanical-Electrical actuators with a cross-joint for the gimbal mechanism. A test bench was designed which is able to handle engines up to 5kN with thrust measurements in 3 different directions. A model of the engine, together with the actuators, is currently being developed in SimScape.

All parts needed will be ordered before the 23rd of October. After the exams, the team will start the production phase. It is expected that all parts are finished and put together before the Christmas holidays. Due to some production issues with the Phoenix+, no hot fire test is currently planned with the system. This will be tested only if the mechanism is fully operational.


Tank pressure, injector manifold pressure and combustion chamber pressure for the DHX4-Phoenix

DHX-4 Phoenix hybrid engine test



Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering (DARE) is a Delft University of Technology associated student rocketry organization. Within DARE students design, build, launch rockets and perform research on various rocketry related topics. DARE provides student members with the opportunity to apply the knowledge obtained during their study, giving members hands-on experience with space projects.

After the record-breaking launch of Stratos II+ in October 2015, the ambitions to go even further are growing faster than ever within DARE. However, as higher altitudes are being reached it becomes more and more important to guarantee that the rocket is following a straight flight path. This is not only to maximize the apogee altitude but also to minimize the ground track in order to keep the landing area as small as possible. This leads to the need of creating a control system capable of stabilising the rocket safely and reliably during the first few crucial seconds of flight, where even small disturbances are able to significantly influence the flight path of the rocket.

Minor Aim and Content

The aim of the 2017-2018 DARE Minor is to design, manufacture and test a thrust vector control (TVC) system. The engine that is planned to be used for the design of this system is a slightly modified version of the Phoenix DHX-4 engine, named to be the Phoenix+. This engine will be used to minimize the actual time spent getting the engine to operate properly, granting more time to developing the actual TVC system. The entire process, starting with a literature study and ending with final testing will be performed by the participants of the minor.

The courses that must be followed during the minor depending on the background of the student. There are two student groups, one for LR/3ME/BK students, and one for non LR/3ME/BK students as seen below (click on the image for higher resolution).


General learning goals

After completing this minor, students are able to:

  • Design, develop, improve, test and produce/build parts of a new experimental rocket
  • Describe how rockets are developed and built
  • Describe, design and use an engine test bench for rocket engine testing
  • Prepare and execute necessary measurements
  • Work in (multi)disciplinary teams
  • Make a development plan and a production plan
  • Write a report with activities, results and recommendations
  • Write a scientific paper

Specific Learning goals

  • Literature study into Thrust Vector Control (TVC) systems
  • Development of the hardware of a TVC system
  • Development of the system identification process needed to model the TVC system
  • Design and operation of required ground systems (test bench, DAQ)

Possible extensions:

  • Design of a flight version of the developed system.
  • Development of flight computer software.
  • Development of a roll control system (like RCS thrusters).