Many interested students want to join the Space Team every year. In order to help them with their first steps, Project FIRST (First Introduction to Rockets and Space Team) was initiated.

New members should form small teams and design, build and fly their very first rocket within three to four months. The necessary knowledge and know-how will be passed on through seminars and workshops held by experienced members. They comprise model rocket basics like aerodynamic stability, motor classification and recovery as well as crash courses in simulations with OpenRocket, 3D CAD designing and 3D printing. All parts and materials indispensable for building the rocket like e.g. body tubes, GRP sheets, filament for 3D printing and Kevlar cords are provided by the Space Team. The participants are however allowed to go beyond the minimum requirements for the rocket and add e.g. additional sensors or a camera.

In order to check the teams’ progress and designs, experienced Space Team members will conduct several reviews. The teams passing all reviews, meeting all design requirements and managing to finish their rocket in time will be allowed to participate in a launch event and perform their first rocket start.

FIRST Campaign 2018/2019

After the recruiting event on November 14th 2018 the very first edition of project FIRST was started. It enjoyed a lot of popularity and eight teams with three to four participants each were present at the official beginning – the course on rocket basics. Subsequent seminars and workshops on OpenRocket, SolidWorks and 3D printing were well-attended too.

The preliminary design review (PDR) took place on December 19th. Design drafts for the mechanical structure as well as a simulation of the rocket were examined by three longtime Space Team members. Also a launch checklist had to be provided. The teams were well-prepared and completed the PDR successfully. A couple weeks later, the critical design review (CDR) was conducted. Here, the final design had to be presented. All components had to be available as 3D models or as actual hardware. The new members performed well again and had to make only minor adjustments.

The next challenge was to build the actual rocket. With the launch event approaching fast, a lot of cutting, drilling, 3D printing, gluing, screwing and wiring was done especially in the last week. Six of the originally eight teams managed to finish their rocket in time – a remarkable achievement!

The launch event took place in Straubing on March 2nd. Despite the bad weather – it was a cloudy, cold and windy day – five of the six teams successfully launched their rocket. For a more detailed report of the event see here. The sixth team as well as those who could not come to Straubing are still working diligently and plan to fly their rocket at the next possible event – most likely in Leipzig at the end of May.

With that project FIRST is not completed yet, but it can already be seen as a success. Therefore it will almost certainly be renewed in the winter semester of 2019.