On 21st April 2016 the CRGS Rocketry Team attended the UKAY Rocketry competition in York. Our challenge was to ‘get a rocket to 850ft, and back down to the ground within 43-46 seconds. Two eggs – one vertically and one horizontally aligned – must survive the journey whilst residing in the rocket’s payload tube.’
Initially, we condensed our ideas about rocket flight down to the main problem: how do we protect the eggs? After a quick discussion within our group, we realised that a shock-absorbing material would be essential, and consequently we sourced some packaging foam that was cut to a cylinder. We then tested our foam by dropping it from height with eggs inside. The results seemed impressive.
Our team leader, Ronan Smith, who designed the main body of the rocket said, ‘I spent about 3 hours on a simulation program, testing and modifying and re-testing.’ Eventually he devised a design that met all the requirements. After approval and some small modifications, the rocket had a complete blueprint. All that was left to do was assemble the pieces.
We had a long wait for the parts which we ordered on the internet, resulting in an anxious team, and a rushed assembly. ‘It was all hands on-deck.’ said Joe Murphy. ‘There was barely enough time for a test.’
On the day of the competition we were the first team to arrive on site and this gave us time to perform final modifications to the rocket in order to prepare it for launch. We were all very apprehensive but, to our surprise, it worked exceptionally well even though it veered a little of course. We later learned that this was because a motor was slightly misaligned.
From this point on we witnessed many crashes and disappointments as rockets broke apart mid-flight or just failed to take off. Unfortunately we contributed to this with our second launch when two of our motors failed to ignite. This led to our rocket majestically arcing into the ground. The damage caused was significant but we managed to repair it and complete our third flight. It went nearly as well as the first, providing our two qualifying flights.
In the end our original flight was the best of the day at the event, reaching a height of 788 feet, landing in 40.21 seconds and leading to a score of 77.2. This was sufficient for us to qualify for the national final in Essex.
CRGS Rocketry Team: Ronan Smith, Olly Thompson, Seb Ellis, Connor Stevens, Boris Andrews, Joe Murphy, Jack Pires, Claire Maden, Issie Astley, Ben Whalley