The UVic Rocketry team holds up the pair of rockets they launched at the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition at Spaceport America in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Photo submitted

UVic students shoot for the stars

UVic team wins Payload Challenge at Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition

Even the sky isn’t the limit for one group of University of Victoria students.

The UVic Rocketry team, made up of a group of about two dozen students, recently took part in the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition at Spaceport America in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The team launched a pair of rockets – MVP-2 and SKOOKUM-1 – with both surpassing the goal of reaching 10,000 feet.

“Basically it’s entirely done by students. We have all kinds of students working on all kinds of projects,” said Keagan Shedden, the aerostructure lead for the UVic team. “We have business students and admin students who manage our funding, we have mechanical engineers working on the physical design of it, electrical engineers handling all of our flight computers.”

The UVic team finished third in the basic competition last year, and Shedden said this year’s team was determined to build on that success.

“We take what works and repeat it, and what didn’t work we try to learn from it and build on it.”

While this year’s official standings haven’t been finalized, the UVic team did walk away with first place in the Space Dynamics Laboratory Payload Challenge.

“On each rocket is a payload, which is the purpose of the rocket, anything from biological experiments to engineering experiments,” explained Shedden.

“On board our larger rocket we had a test on UV sterilization to test it as a method of sterilizing space components for the search for life. When humanity reaches the stars and we’re looking for different life, we want to make sure we’re not contaminating it with life from our own planet – to get false positives.”

But the team’s success was perhaps overshadowed by the chance to share ideas and swap stories with the members of the other 90 teams from 12 different nations.

“There’s a lot of teams from the American universities but we also saw teams from Egypt, Brazil, Turkey, India had a team there,” said Shedden, calling them kindred spirits. “It’s incredible being with everyone working on the same thing and seeing people from around the world with the same passion as you.”

The second-year mechanical engineering student is hoping to see that passion through to a career building rockets.

“A lot of us [on the team] are dreaming of working in aerospace engineering. Three members from last year are working in New Zealand for Rocket Labs, they’re building rockets there professionally now.”

And work has already started on the project for next year’s competition.

“We have a couple exciting things in the works,” said Shedden. “We’re trying to build a hybrid rocket which is a much more complicated system.”