Dutch Student Team Aims To Launch Rocket To 50KM

Space. The final frontier. These are the voyages of DARE, the [Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering] team, who are looking to launch a rocket to 50 kilometers (about 31 miles) to break the European amateur rocketry record later this year.

This brave crew of students from the Delft Technical University is boldly going where no European amateur has gone before with a rocket of their own design called Stratos II, a single stage hybrid rocket which is driven by a DHX-200 Aurora engine. This self-built engine uses a combination of solid Sorbitol and candlewax fuel, with liquid Nitrous Oxide as the oxidizer. The rather unlikely sounding combination should produce an impressive 12,000 Newtons of maximum thrust, and a total of 180,000 Ns of impulse. It’s difficult to make a proper comparison, but the largest model rocket motor sold in the US without a special license (a class G) has up to 160 Ns of impulse and the largest engine ever built by amateurs had 411,145 Ns of impulse.

The team did try a launch last year, but the launch failed due to a frozen fuel valve. Like any good engineering team, they haven’t let failure get them down, and have been busy redesigning their rocket for another launch attempt in the middle of October, Their launch window begins on October 13th at a military base in southern Spain, and we will be watching their attempt closely. Godspeed, DARE!

In commercial space news, yesterday NASA tested the RS-25 engine that will be used in the Space Launch System — the rocket it’s developing to take astronauts to the moon and mars. Also, the NTSB report on the tragic crash of SpaceShipTwo was released a few weeks ago. The report found that the feather mechanism was unlocked by the copilot at the wrong time, leading to the crash. Future system improvements will be put in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Update – The Stratos II is a single-stage rocket, not a two-stage, as an earlier version of this article described. 8/16/15

15 thoughts on “Dutch Student Team Aims To Launch Rocket To 50KM

    1. Thing is, that Europe doesn’t have a large enough uninhabited area to safely do these tests, so the only way is into the Atlantic ocean (possibly the Baltic sea), that kinda narrows the possibilities…

      It’s not that there is no potential for high-energy amateur rocketry, it’s possible to buy a fully functional SCUD missile engine (liquid fuel with turbopump, over 13t thrust, ISP at sea level about 230s) for it’s scrap value here, it’s just that one needs a couple of square miles (at the very least, more like tens of square miles) to just test the engine safely, Europe simply doesn’t offer that*

      *it does, but the armed forces are hogging these areas

  1. I recommend checking out “How hard can it be” on YouTube where the team try to get a rocket into space. They didn’t quite get there, but its a really cool video and illustrates some of the difficulties involved.

  2. On the RS-25 test;

    Basically, they proved they could fire the space shuttle main rocket after adjusting the engine controllers the engine controller and adjusting the fuel line architecture. Bear in mind that this is one of the highest specific thrust platforms (liquid fuel) ever designed, and they were done so in the 70s.

    Not sure if “upgrading the electronics” to work with the space launch system meant putting in an AVR with everybody’s favourite boot loader; we who live by U.S. Law without representation can only hope not.

    1. I always loved the aesthetics of this engine. The gimbal is powerful poetry in motion. But in the end, this is a early 80’s engine. If the NASA and ESA want to cut down on the dependency of NPO Energomash’s stuff, especially the RD-180. New designs are needed. The first competitor from Blue Origin is supposed to be available in 2019 I thought.
      ( I don’t hate on the RD-180.. It’s a beast, but geo-political stuff is… political!)

      1. I think half the problem is, when it comes to US liquid fuel engines-

        They’re all early 80s engines.

        Except the RP-1 (and RP-1A derivatives) which are late 60s engines.
        Still, gotta love a 50.000 horsepower rocket engine whose sole purpose is to drive the turbopump of the REAL ENGINE, and then cool the exhaust cone

  3. This is very US-like since the dutch also have a military industry and I bet they could easily help them along, but won’t.
    Same with the US’s military space program and NASA, they keep quiet to NASA even if it costs NASA millions to figure things out themselves.

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