A Summerland Secondary School graduate was part of a winning team in a recent rocket competition in New Mexico.
Simon Bambey, a second-year student at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, was one of the founders of UBC Rocket, one of more than 110 post-secondary teams from 11 countries competing in the Spaceport America Cup.
The team consisted of 60 active student members who worked from September to June designing and building the rocket.
When it was completed, the rocket stood 2.5 metres tall, with a diameter of 17 centimetres. It weighed 25 kilograms.
“We designed and built everything,” Bambey said.
The body tube was built from carbon fibre and the unit structure was mostly aluminum. The nose cone, roughly 40 centimetres long, was made using a three-dimensional printer at the university. It took six days to print out the nose cone.
The only part of the rocket the team did not build was the fuel supply. This was solid fuel in an aluminum case, which was available commercially.
Bambey estimates the rocket is worth between $5,000 and $10,000.
In addition, the team members spent plenty of time in creating the rocket. By the end, Bambey was working seven days a week on the project, spending time every evening after class and during much of the weekend.
At the competition, Bambey and his teammates competed to get their rocket to 10,000 feet or 3,048 metres.
Their rocket attained an altitude of 10,053 feet or 3,064 metres.
Bambey is studying engineering physics at the university and would like to have a career in rockets in the future.
He said rocketry fascinates him, partly because of the engineering and precision involved.
“There’s a lot to optimize,” he said. “For a launch to go well, everything has to go right. There’s really no margin for error. There’s no room to take a shortcut.”
Canadian university-level rocketry teams have been performing exceptionally well for many years, Bambey said. However, there is a challenge for Canadians who wish to work in rocketry.
“A lot of American companies are prohibited from hiring people from abroad, even from Canada,” he said. “I’d love to see rocketry grow in Canada.”
Spaceport America, where the competition was held, has been described as the world’s first purpose-built spaceport.
The Spaceport America Cup is designed around the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition, for student teams from around the world.
There are categories for teams to launch rockets to 10,000 and 30,000 feet.
For next year, Bambey would like the UBC Rocket team to enter the 30,000-foot category in the competition.