The student team from DARE (Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering) will make a new attempt on Wednesday, October 20th to launch their home-made rocket. The students hope to set a European record with the rocket. Last Friday, ‘Stratos 4’ will soar into the air From a base in Spain, but then a technical problem arose. “The reason we launched this rocket was to lower the obstacle to space,” team leader Willem van Linden told Omrup Delft. At the moment, there is little research that can be done in the space, because it is now only accessible to billion-dollar companies and their costs are very high. Politicians also have something to say about it. But more students should be able to do space research, which is very useful for the future.”
In addition, DARE wants to break the height record. The record of 32 kilometers is currently in the hands of German students from Stuttgart. The Delft student rocket was built to reach a height of more than 100 kilometers, which is where the limit of space lies. “But this missile will not be made because more space in the sea and in the airspace must be freed up.”
However, students are still confident that they can easily beat the record. It was not yet known how high the rocket was on Wednesday. We won’t know this until five minutes before launch. ‘It just depends on how the wind works,’ says Van Linden.
Load cell problem
The launch was supposed to take place on Friday, but then the “load cell problem” arose. The load cell is a kind of scale at the bottom of the rocket. The part measures how much fuel is in it. If something is wrong with it, the launch should not take place.
Preparations begin a year or two before launch. “We have to figure out what might happen if things go wrong. The worst case scenario is when the missile derails. However, if the missile veers away, the flight stops and the missile lands safely at sea. It would be very frustrating if the fourth Stratos didn’t rise in the air at all, But it won’t hurt,” says Van Linden.
Every year 70 students participate on a voluntary basis. About 16 to 20 people sometimes work 80 hours a week. But there are also students who do this along with their studies. “It really is a pure passion,” says Van Linden.
“We have 1% of the regular budget than what NASA has. But through creative thinking and smart use of materials, we are becoming more independent. Stratos IV is made, among other things, of carbon fibres. This saves weight and energy. And we need less fuel.”
A needle in a haystack
The missile will return to the sea the same day. At its peak it breaks in two and the “nose cone”, which contains the GPS tracker, returns in one piece with the parachutes. This allows you to find out exactly where it landed in the sea. If all goes well, the missile will float, but the goal is to find it within a day. Otherwise, it’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
There is still a small chance that it will not launch. “There are always things that can throw a wrench in the works. We depend more on the weather. If there’s a lot of cloud you can’t monitor flight, and with too much wind, the rocket can veer off course. But if it doesn’t work out on Wednesday, We’ll give him another chance on Friday or Saturday.”
DARE is one of the largest amateur rocket teams in the world. Designs, builds and launches rockets for scientific and educational purposes. DARE has moved more than 150 missiles from small test pads to record-breaking missiles like the Stratus 4.
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