October 16th saw the launch of the Stratos II+ rocket, developed by the team of Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineers (DARE) of Delft University of Technology to reach a new European altitude record for amateur rocketry. The lift-off of the 7 m tall Stratos II+ rocket occurred on Friday, October 16th at 16:33 from its launch pad at INTA’s El Arenosillo facility near the coast of southern Spain to reach a final altitude of about 21.5 km. This success beat DARE’s own European altitude record of 12.5 km from 2009.
The record breaking rocket is completely designed and built by students, including the rocket engine itself. The engine is hybrid, running on a solid mixture of aluminum powder, paraffin and sorbitol combined with nitrous oxide. This mixture allowed the rocket to reach a maximum velocity of 2545 km/h, roughly twice the speed of sound.
The rocket carried three experiments. The main experiment was provided by the Radboud University of Nijmegen, measuring how far radiation from space penetrates into the Earth’s atmosphere. The second experiment measured the position and velocity of the rocket in an innovative way, without the use of GPS. The third experiment demonstrated a streamed live video from the rocket to a ground station. This allowed viewers to watch live on-board footage of the successful rocket launch via the internet.
The successful launch of the Stratos II+ rocket marks an important step in reaching the ultimate goal of the DARE team: becoming the first student team launching a rocket to an altitude of 100 km. More information on the goal of DARE and launch of last week, including the video footage, can be found on their website.