Lift off in the UK Youth Rocketry Challenge

Posted on April 30, 2019


After weeks of design and preparation, the Rocket Club girls gathered during the Easter holidays for the official launch of their device under the watchful eye of the UK Youth Rocketry Challenge (UKROC) official assessor. Selection of the venue was key and a suitably quiet Devon field was found away from the Exeter Airport flightpath although, unfortunately, we weren’t able to control the weather which was a little windy to be ideal.

Under the stipulations of this national contest, the design of the rocket must comply with an exacting set of rules governing altitude, total flight time and vehicle design. Another requirement is that the raw egg carried in the rocket’s capsule must survive its entire journey without cracking on landing impact. The girls have had to put into practice elements of chemistry, physics, engineering, aerodynamics, 3D design and 3D printing which culminated in a rocket that received high praise from the UKROC judge for quality of build and design. 

Despite some last minute rule clarifications and “in-field” modifications, the first launch started with a perfect ascent and the rocket roared to an altitude of 228m in less than five seconds. Unfortunately, the girls should perhaps have practised their knot tying skills as two of the three recovery parachutes detached mid-flight, leaving our egg passenger plunging to its doom and slightly damaging the main rocket which had come back to earth with a bang.

After some minor repairs they were then able to put up a second flight to a similar altitude culminating, this time, with a perfect descent and all parachutes attached. Unfortunately, however, an unavoidable wind drift caused the payload to collide with a nearby concrete barn roof, resulting in the egg sustaining the tiniest of cracks and the flight being rejected from qualification.

However, in a rare stroke of luck, the girls will have a second attempt at selection for the National Finals on Saturday 4 May 2019 when they will travel to Chippenham for the postponed South West Regional qualifiers (which our team originally couldn’t make because it clashed with their final Ten Tors training expedition)! Every cloud has a silver lining and thanks to Storm Hannah delaying the contest by a week, we have another exciting chance of qualification! Good luck, Rocket Girls!