EUROAVIA is an organization that stands out thanks to its technical and scientific division. It all started in 2017, the first year our new AS started operations, that a few ambitious Engineering students begun the Rocket Project. They created the professional and team environment that our members enjoy working in today.
The first rocket
The first members to make an attempt on the task of creating a rocket set small goals to achieve. They wanted to make a model of a rocket, that flew really fast really high. Their designs were kept simple and minimal but robust as they faced many problems on their way. After extensive research they decided to use a Class E, factory-made, model rocket engine as their knowledge on propellants and engine design was still limited. The rockets body was scaled down to fit this pre-designed engine. Made out of aluminum piping and 3D-printed parts the rocket was ready for launch.
If you were to ask a member of this first team how the launch went, he would most probably focus in stories about driving up the Panachaiko mountain in a car filled with EUROAVIA members. That’s of course because the launch was not the success everyone anticipated. A flaw in the factory-made engine caused the rocket to spiral and gain little altitude.
It’s now the year 2018. EUROAVIA AS Patras has recruited new ambitious minds ready to take the Rocket Project to a new level under the supervision of our member, Orestis Mantzarlis (Alumni). The goals for the second version of the project was to build our own rocket engine, improve the body’s design and equip the shuttle with electronic components. The rocket team, now consisting of more than 15 members, was split into three working groups: The Design team, the Mechanical team and the Electrical team.
The three groups worked in parallel to complete the ultimate task. The design team, using the simulation program OpenRocket, designed the rockets body from scratch, maximizing aerodynamics. Using CAD software, they designed a nosecone and fins that were later printed using a 3D-printer and applied to the rocket body. The mechanical team undertook the task of building and assembling the body. Using a mixture of powdered sugar and potassium nitrate, they built and tested multiple versions of a home-made rocket engine. The built the rocket body from cardboard tubing and finally equipped the rocket with a parachute deploying mechanism. Finally, the Electrical team created a circuit based on the Arduino open-source microcontroller, that was responsible for datalogging altitude, barometric pressure, temperature, linear and gyroscopic acceleration, as well as deploying the parachute at the right time. This data would later be analyzed to improve the rocket.
After numerous tests and when we were sure that everything was working to spec, the team set a launch date. As the clock reached T-0:00 the team faced destruction. Another failure of on the engine occurred that completely destroyed months of work. Specifically, due to high pressure and a mistake on the nozzle opening design, the engine exploded shredding the whole rocket to pieces.
Our members, loyal to the idea of a functional rocket model, decided to try once more. With two years of experience behind us, and with more select members staffing the rocket team it was high time the rocket flew. Starting November, 2019, the Rocket project v3.0 started under the supervision of the new technical executive board member, Frank Fourlas.
The Electrical team had the simple task of rebuilding the perfectly functional electronics system that gave life to v2.0. The Design team had to reevaluate the blueprints to avoid mistakes of the past, but also to design a whole new version of the engine. This year, after consulting with experienced mechanics and engineers, the engine will be powered by solid, cooked fuel using dextrose instead of plain sugar. It will also use a machined cover and nozzle, both carefully designed, simulated, machined and tested. Finally, the Mechanical team is tasked with integrating all these changes to a new and improved body.