TU Graz student team is European rocketry champion

Besieds the overall ranking, the ’Aerospace Team Graz’ also won in t
Besieds the overall ranking, the ’Aerospace Team Graz’ also won in the hybrid rocket category with a flight altitude of three kilometers. Image source: Aerospace Team Graz
By Philipp Jarke

The "Aerospace Team Graz" competed in Constância, Portugal, with its hybrid rocket "Halcyon" and won the overall ranking of the European Rocketry Challenge for the first time.

The "Aerospace Team Graz" has won the European Rocketry Challenge 2023, a Europe-wide competition for student teams in which their rockets not only have perform well during take-off, flight and landing, but also in a number of other categories. The students from Graz competed in Constância, Portugal, with their 3.6-metre-long, 32-kg hybrid rocket "Halcyon", which is powered by a mixture of nitrous oxide and paraffin wax. They won the category for hybrid rockets and the overall ranking, where teamwork, design, technical documentation and the rocket’s flight performance are all factors in the decision.

The original launch of the rocket as part of the competition was scheduled for 12 October, but had to be postponed because of extreme heat which inhibited a safe launch. The propulsion components of a hybrid rocket are highly temperature-dependent and even the sophisticated cooling system of the Aerospace Team Graz could not cope with the high temperatures. On 13 October, however, the "Halcyon" was successfully refuelled and the launch sequence was initiated. "In a fraction of a second, the rocket lifted off and disappeared from sight," reported Aerospace Team Graz from Constância. "Ground control followed the mission via live data transmission, and the tension in our team gave way to great enthusiasm when the desired flight altitude was reached and the parachutes were released for a safe landing." Aerospace Team Graz defeated teams from ETH Zurich and Imperial College London, among others.

The European Rocketry Challenge is organised by the Portuguese Space Agency since 2020. The competition is aimed at student teams involved in the development and construction of rockets. After an initial application stage, 25 teams are selected to take part in the competition on-site.

In this interview, students Dorothea Krasser and Georg Witzlinger talk about how they came to Areospace Team Graz and why it is so difficult to do test flights with their rockets.