Sydney Uni rocketry team wins at Spaceport America Cup

Stephen Kuper

Last Saturday afternoon in Las Cruces, New Mexico, the University of Sydney Rocketry Team was announced as a winner in the Spaceport America Cup intercollegiate rocketry competition.

Sydney Uni rocketry team wins at Spaceport America Cup
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The team was the first Australian team to attend and compete in the university rocketry competition held annually in New Mexico. Competing against 51 student teams from around the globe, including Princeton and ETH Zurich, the University of Sydney team claimed victory with its custom-built rocket, Silvereye, in the 10,000 feet commercial off-the-shelf category.

Team president André Franck Bauer said, "Winning the 10,000 feet commercial off-the-shelf category at Spaceport America Cup 2019 is the culmination of more than eight months of hard work."

The University of Sydney team was commended for its precision and safety preparedness, with the rocket reaching a height just 27 feet shy of the target altitude of 10,000 feet – about three kilometres. The team also received an honourable mention for their sportsmanship, using their expertise to assist other teams launch and recover their rockets.

"Our win represents the biggest achievement for university student rocketry in Australia’s history. We are proud to have represented our country well and look forward to collaborating with other universities for next year’s competition," Bauer added. 

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These comments were echoed by the team's chief engineer, Mitchell Galletly, who said, "It has been an absolute honour leading a team of dedicated and talented students in New Mexico to launch Silvereye. Our rocket has been successfully flown and recovered both in Australia and now in the US, highlighting the robustness and adaptiveness of our design."

Competing against a global cohort of universities and working alongside leading aerospace organisations has allowed the team to gain new insights into the international space industry that they hope to share with their peers.

University of Sydney vice-chancellor and principal Dr Michael Spence congratulated the students on the result.

"It is wonderful to see their hard work pay off on a global stage. Their success in New Mexico not only demonstrates the high calibre of our students, but also showcases our commitment to world-class research in aerospace engineering," Dr Spence said.

Silvereye was constructed from a custom-designed and manufactured carbon fibre airframe and uses a solid propellant to achieve speeds approaching the speed of sound. In 2020, the team hopes to compete again while also paving the way for other universities to join them.

The University of Sydney Rocketry Team is Australia’s oldest tertiary student rocketry team. In 2018, the team became the first Australian university team to design and build a rocket that successfully reached 10,000 feet.

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