Over the Xmas and new years’ break, I had the opportunity to travel to Europe. Although there for other reasons, I did manage to squeeze in some rocket related business.
My travels led me to The Netherlands where I had the opportunity to visit the students of Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering. DARE, as they are known, previously held the European student and amateur rocket altitude record of 21.5km with their Stratos II+ rocket before having the record broken late last year by University of Stuttgart students and their HEROS 3 rocket, achieving 32.3km.
The team was hard at work with Stratos III plans and reviews when I walked in but were still able to take time out of their schedule to show me around. In the Korolev Lab where most of the team was working stood the capsule from the Stratos II+ flight and remnants of the team’s first rocket. Stratos I displayed in a glass cabinet is quite the thing to see.
Across the way, the team shares a large workshop facility with the other University projects, solar powered boat, electric motorbike, hydrogen-powered race car, to name a few. All pretty cool in their own right! But of course the Stratos II+ mock up takes the cake as one walks in the door! As you can see is extremely difficult to get a good photo of!
As the team are still in the planning and review stage of Stratos III+, there was not a lot of workshop activity going on. However, various projects sit around which all make quite the talking points. Of interest sat the teams DHX-Phoenix rocket engine, this little 1kN engine allows the team to test different hybrid rocket technologies before scaling them up to a Stratos-size engine. All this can be accomplished on the University grounds and provides them with an easy way to develop the perfect engine.
The workshop and Korolev lab were quite impressive in the way of what a student-run organisation can accomplish. I must say it was great to be in one room with all like-minded people. I could imagine being a team member brings great pride, and it shows. With so many dedicated students working on one common goal, it should not be too long before we start seeing Stratos III hardware and a new altitude record soon!
I’d like to personally thank everyone at DARE for hosting me. Hopefully, I can visit again and possibly catch a launch next time!