Photo: Joachim Rode

Students to build own rocket

Thursday 26 Apr 18
A new student association at DTU will participate in the competition Spaceport America Cup in 2020/21.

More than 20 students with sky-high dreams are aiming to build a rocket that can fly no less than nine kilometres into the air. They have therefore set up DanSTAR—Danish Student Association for Rocketry—as an association under Polyteknisk Forening (PF student association).

The goal is to build the rocket from scratch—an ambitious project that will require many hours at the drawing board—and in the workshop.

“We’re the first student association in Denmark that has set out to design, develop, and test its own rocket and rocket engine—which is an incredible achievement in itself. The overall goal is to take part in the Spaceport America Cup competition in New Mexico, USA, in 2020/21,” explains enthusiastic DanSTAR project manager, Rasmus Arnt.

While all the work is carried out in the students’ spare time, there are also team members who have spent their three-week course period working on sub elements of the project. All the team members are driven by a common dream—namely building a rocket.

“We got off to an amazing start. To begin with, we numbered over 100 members with loads of subgroups. But we quickly discovered that we needed to narrow our focus. We therefore created a tighter structure and established specific objectives. Until December 2018, we will be working on three milestones: a demonstration engine, a test stand, and a nitrous oxide cooler. Currently, we’re a core group of about 20 members and we’ve a much better handle on things,” says Rasmus Arnt, adding that the project has already taught him an incredible amount about project management and design programs.

Busy workshop
The students hail from a wide range of study programmes—from Mechanical Engineering to Earth and Space Physics and Engineering. And then there are two members from the Copenhagen School of Marine Engineering and Technology Management which very conveniently is situated a stone’s throw from DTU Skylab.The final members are already busy in the workshop, as the design for the demonstration engine has to be realized and the drawings modified accordingly.

But why start by building a test engine?

“The engine we’re building now is far too heavy for the actual rocket, but you build a test engine to test the test stand and the systems behind it,” explains Jonas Paludan from the group. This allows us to gather the knowledge we need to construct a more advanced rocket engine, which in turn allows us to build our rocket.”

Currently, the project has several sponsors who are contributing materials and equipment. That said, the club is looking for funding so they can buy a finished compressor, for example. Building everything from scratch would significantly delay the project.

“And we want to launch the rocket before we finish our studies,” laugh the three students with stellar dreams.