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Aurora was built by an interdisciplinary team of students active in the Scientific Circle of Wroclaw University of Science and Technology in Space. This is not the first success of the scientific circle. Last year in the same competition, PWr students were awarded for their R4V2 rocket called Pink Panthera.

- In Space has been operating since 2017, and a total of 8 missions have been created as part of the PoliWRock project. Missions, because each rocket is a new mission," Michal Kos, vice president of Scientific Circle PWr in Space, explains at the outset.

In what Aurora is better at than Pink Panthera

The goal of the R5 mission was to improve the design and assembly of R4V2.

- Assembly of the previous rocket took too long and was too complicated. After the modifications, we were able to assemble some of R5's components earlier, and the whole process went more smoothly than in R4V2," admits Michal Kos.

The connections between the bodies were also improved compared to the previous version. The R4V2 rocket, perhaps surprisingly, bent a bit, so it had to be carried by several people.

The Aurora has such a rigid structure that it can now be held by one person. For us, this makes a huge difference.

Michal Kos, vice president of the PWr Scientific Circle in Space

Advantages are design, workmanship and documentation

About 120 teams from around the world competed in the Spaceport America Cup 2023, the largest inter-university competition of its kind, bringing the total to nearly 1,700 scientists. This is an opportunity to exchange experiences and contacts of the best (if not now, then in the future) specialists in the field of rocket construction.

Michal Kos admits that not all rockets are allowed to take off. What made Aurora pass the preliminaries?

Our undoubted advantage was meticulously prepared documentation, not every team took care of this issue.

Michal Kos, vice president of the PWr Scientific Circle in Space

He adds: - We made sure of this, learning from the previous launch. Another point that the jury appreciated was that the design was well optimized in terms of weight and aerodynamics, as well as the high quality of construction.

What does this mean in practice?

- Our rocket not only took off and performed the flight correctly, but also landed by parachute. Not many teams succeeded, because due to design flaws the parachute often did not open," admits Michal Kos.

What will be the goal of the next mission?

- We are still before the team meeting, where we will discuss our launch in New Mexico and set new goals. We definitely need to renew the rocket's body, as it was slightly damaged on landing," says Michal Kos.

Probably, as the vice president of Scientific Circle PWr in Space admits, the engine design should also be improved.

The R5 rocket was fitted with a hybrid engine, which presents some problems when launched at such high temperatures as in the desert. At launch, the team had difficulty clearly assessing the correct opening of the nitrous oxide cylinder valve, and - instead of relying on specific parameters - the students relied on observation and their own experience.

- We still do not control some variables enough," admits Michal Kos.

The future of Aurora

Aurora is a student project. The most important benefit of its construction is the practical knowledge that the members - students of mechatronics, power engineering, electronics, robotics and telecommunications, and other majors - exchange during the work. They perform everything on their own.

And this knowledge will pay off in the future. Rockets of this caliber, that is, 4-5 meters long, are used for experiments and research in the microgravity environment and in the military.

For the time being, Aurora (unless it changes its name) will be seen September 2-3 at the Meteor Festival in the Bledowska Desert.