The TU Vienna Space Team is a student association at the Vienna University of Technology that gives students the opportunity to develop their practical skills in the field of space technologies outside of their studies. Specifically, experimental rockets with solid, liquid and hybrid propulsion, as well as satellites (CubeSats) and autonomous drones are developed. The largest rocket project of the TU Vienna Space Team is the rocket “The Hound”, which has been in development since 2016 and is intended to reach outer space (~100 km). “The Hound” is a solid-fuelled two-stage rocket that has already been tested a few times at BALLS in the Nevada desert. Unfortunately, the target of 100 km could not be reached yet, but it seems to be within reach. More information about the rocket can be found at The Hound.
Since building rockets imparts a lot of knowledge, it forms a very good basis for entering the subject of space technologies. However, the goal of a rocket is always to launch a satellite or a payload into space. The TU Vienna Space Team is also picking up on this point and is currently developing a CubeSat that is to be made available to pupils as a live laboratory in space. For this purpose, various sensors and cameras are on board the satellite, which can be accessed and thus various experiments can be carried out. To make it easier for participating school teams to get started, the proven Raspberry Pi platform is being used. The CubeSat is currently under development and is scheduled to be launched into space in 2024 – by means of a conventional rocket launch and not yet with a rocket of the TU Vienna Space Team. Detailed information on the CubeSat can be found at SpaceTeamSat1.
Another education project in which the TU Vienna Space Team acts as launch provider is the CanSat Challenge organised by ESERO Austria for high school students, in which “satellites” in the shape of Cola cans are brought to an altitude of 600-700 m, ejected there and then measure various physical values when they fall to earth. In addition, the school teams are motivated to develop their own experiments. The whole thing takes place every year. Details can be found on the ESERO Austria website.
In order to pass on the topic of space technologies to younger generations of researchers, the TU Vienna Space Team organised a rocket workshop in Vorarlberg in mid-November as part of mint Vorderland/amKumma, where two solid-based rockets were launched to 100 metres. Unfortunately, it is not possible to launch higher in densely populated areas or near airports. In fact, three rockets were prepared with three teams of five children each. However, the third rocket could not be launched due to time constraints – and as it turned out later – due to technical reasons. Unfortunately, during the second flight, the motor mount jammed due to a rough landing of the second rocket and thus prevented a further launch.
Before the rockets could be launched, the most important components of the rockets had to be assembled. There was a short introduction to the construction of experimental rockets, as we also do in the TU Vienna Space Team, as in principle the only differences between the large and smaller rockets are the drives and motors. The groups then assembled the rockets and checked some important criteria for stability. The components of the rocket can be broken down into a few individual important components: the rocket tube with the fins, as well as the tip, the flight computer, which measures the flight altitude, as well as the reversal of the rocket, a parachute, which is then ejected at the reversal point so that the rocket lands gently, as well as the electrically ignited motor.
In terms of stability, it is important to ensure that the centre of gravity is correct, which guarantees a stable flight upwards. The aerodynamic behaviour was then tested by means of a swing test. Here, the tip of the rocket, as well as the fins, have a significant influence.
As already mentioned, a flight altitude of 100 m was calculated for the rockets, which was achieved almost exactly with 108 m. The first rocket made a parade, which was then flown up to a height of 100 m. The flight altitude of the second rocket was also calculated. The first rocket made a parade flight and landing. However, the parachute of the second rocket ignited a little too late and so it hit the earth almost ballistically.
The workshop was accompanied by ESERO Austria. Here, the topic of space materials could be examined and explored through small experiments. For this purpose, various materials can be examined for their physical properties and thus determine what these materials can be used for.
The TU Vienna Space Team presented the projects “The Hound” and the CubeSat mission “SpaceTeamSat1” at various stands. There was also a lot of information material from Beyond Gravity, who supported us at this workshop, the TU Vienna Space Team and ESERO Austria.
The TU Vienna Space Team would like to thank mint Vorderland/amKumma for organising the workshop. Furthermore, a big thank you to ESERO Austria for the great experiments and to Beyond Gravity for the great support during the workshop. A big thank you also goes to Herbert Gort from Gaißau – without him the rocket launches would not have been possible.