Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering is one of the largest and most advanced amateur rocketry teams in the world. We are a group of ambitious students of the Delft University of Technology sharing a passion for rocket science and a dream to reach space. We design, build and launch rockets that serve a scientific and educational purpose. Within the society, we have flown over 160 rockets, ranging small scale test platforms to record-breaking rockets like Stratos. The society consists of more than 180 active members, which are mostly students from different faculties of the Delft University of Technology, Haagse Hogeschool or InHolland.
DARE is a dynamic society where multiple projects happen at the same time. We are able to build, test and fly solid, hybrid and liquid rocket engines in a safe manner. Complex electronics are required to control the vehicles we develop.
We provide students with unique hands-on experiences in a collaborative environment full of challenges.
DARE is a fully student-run society which operates in a project-based structure. Six research and development projects work on new technologies for future DARE vehicles. These technologies are either implemented in the flagship Stratos vehicle, or in other large missions, such as Aether or SPEAR. Each research and development team has their own teamleader, who is responsible for the planning, logistics and spendings of the projects and reports directly to the Executive Board.
The Executive Board of the society consist of six students and is annually elected and discharged by the General Members Assembly, which consists of all ordinary members of the society. The Executive Board is responsible for strategic decisions of the society, finances and contact with external parties. The Supervisory Board consists of six students who oversees and advises the Executive Board.
As rocket science is a dangerous business, DARE has its own Safety Board. The Safety Board is elected annually by the General Members Assembly and acts as an independent organ within the society. Safety Officers are always present when hazardous activities are involved, where the Safety Board has the final word on the conduction of any such activity and the right to veto it.
The story of Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering starts in 2001 when a group of six enthusiastic students from the VSV ‘Leonardo Da Vinci’ (the study society of the Faculty of 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 in the Netherlands. 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 the model airplane committee, ‘EmoCie’, should be brought together in a foundation separate from the VSV ‘Leonardo Da Vinci’: Stichting Universalis. Both committees worked together for some time in a small workshop in the basement of the building at the Rotterdamseweg in Delft.
The first large 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. The successor of this rocket motor is still in use and forms the backbone of most of our launch campaigns.
When DARE started providing rockets for the annual Dutch CanSat competition in 2006 using this DX-1, DARE was encouraged to become more professional and streamlined. With help from prof. Chris Verhoeven, a workshop in the basement of the Electrical Engineering faculty was arranged. Simultaneously, the research on more complex engines started, including larger solid engines and liquid nitrous oxide – ethane engines.
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 several months all new members are educated in basic knowledge of rocketry and design, build and launch a small rocket that has to safely transport a raw chicken egg to one kilometer altitude and back.
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 reached 12.3 km altitude, setting the European altitude record for student rocketry. Shortly after this successful launch, DARE received the official TU Delft Dreamteam status and got a new workshop in the D:Dreamhall. In the meantime, ‘EmoCie‘, the counteprart of DARE in Stichting Universalis became less active, and it was decided that DARE should become a society of its own. This was realized on the 16th of April 2010.
Soon after, the Stratos II project was started. It was decided to go for a single-stage hybrid rocket, aiming for 50 km altitude. Extensive theoretical research was done on hybrid engines, followed with a test campaign of small scale engines. Afterward, the project fully kicked off. Many new experimental subsystems were developed for Stratos II, including a 180 kNs impulse engine, a two-stage parachute system for supersonic recovery, a flight computer to control the rocket, and a telemetry system to send all data down to Earth. After all these subsystems had come together to create the Stratos II rocket, a launch campaign was organized in cooperation with the Spanish space agency INTA in 2014. Unfortunately, this attempt resulted in a misfire, and the rocket was not launched.
After the launch of Stratos II+, the society DARE had grown from a small group of enthusiasts to one of the largest and most advanced student rocketry teams in the world. Given the size and complexity of the Stratos project was became larger with every launch, several members started looking in the possibility of designing and building a rocket that could be used as a technology demonstrator for future project Stratos missions. The project was created at the end of the 2015 summer and called Aether.
The Aether vehicle features the largest solid rocket motor ever developed in DARE and is designed to reach supersonic velocity in the lower atmospheric layers. Next to this, a new active stabilization system is added as well as new recovery system.
In parallel to project Aether, Stratos III slowly started taking shape. The Stratos III rocket featured a new hybrid rocket, capable of delivering a 400 kNs total impulse at a peak thrust of 2.5 tons. With the goal of reclaiming the European student altitude record, the team departed to the INTA launch site in Spain in July 2018. After a picture-perfect launch of the rocket, an in-flight anomaly 20 seconds into the flight resulted in a rapid unscheduled disintegration of the vehicle.
After the ill-fated flight of Stratos III, the team returned to Delft and the Stratos IV project was kicked off in September 2018. As the team was aware the design of Stratos III had the potential of approaching the edge of space, it was decided to continue to develop on the design of Stratos III, improve it and aim for space. The Stratos IV vehicle features four nitrous oxide monopropellant thrusters to actively control the roll rate of the vehicle. The launch is planned for 2021.