STEM Students Reach UK Rocket Finals with Record-Breaking Performance | Epsom College
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STEM Students Reach UK Rocket Finals with Record-Breaking Performance

Judges hail 'best ever score' as Epsom ease through to national finals of the UK Youth Rocket Competition

On Saturday 4 May, eight of Epsom’s STEM team journeyed south to Abbeyfield School in Chippenham to take part in ADS’s UK Youth Rocket Competition (UKROC).

Our brave rocketeers – Isabella Matson, Zac Power, Viktor Ivanov, Tom Stapley, Tab Chiba, Alex Bukur, Owen Eckes and Levi Trytsman – competed against 40 teams from UK schools, colleges and youth groups.

The students entered two teams, Voyager and Karman, and designed and built rockets to take part in this year’s mission. The rules were fiendishly simple:

  • Rockets had to weigh less than 650g
  • They had to carry a raw egg without it being broken in flight
  • Rockets had to reach an altitude of 820 feet, before landing again in a time of 43-46 seconds
  • Every foot above or below the target altitude earned one penalty point
  • Every second under or over time earned another penalty point
  • Teams were aiming to achieve a score of 0
  • Each team had two launches, with the lowest score used for qualification.

Team Karman launched their rocket first. Their rocket shot up and passed through its apogee with the parachute deploying perfectly. They achieved an altitude of 829 feet, with a flight time of around 18 seconds, resulting in a respectable score of 34 points.

Team Voyager went next. They successfully launched their rocket, and it flew to a height of around 800 feet. Unfortunately, disaster struck. A faulty coupler meant the parachute failed to deploy. The rocket crashed to the ground, destroying both the egg and the rocket. The flight was therefore disqualified, and Team Voyager had to undertake a rapid rebuild.

Unfortunately, the Team’s second launch did not fare much better. As the rocket shot up to 420 feet a fin broke off, leading to an unscheduled rapid disassembly – when the parachute suddenly deployed. Again this meant Team Voyager did not score. Despite the outcome, the judges praised the team for being able to rapidly rebuild a rocket for the second flight, demonstrating true resilience.

Meanwhile, to get their flight time closer to the target, Team Karman carried out calculations and changed the size of their parachute. These changes, coupled with a 2g increase in the mass of the rocket, saw the Team achieve the lowest score the judges had ever seen…. 1! The rocket reached an altitude of 821 feet and completed the mission with the egg intact in a time of 45.9 seconds.

Team Karman now proceeds to the national finals in June, the winner of which will represent the UK in the international final.

Thank you to Dr Telfer-Mason and Mr Rob Johnstone for accompanying the teams.