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Spaceport America Cup 2022: Oronos-developed hybrid rocket reaches new heights!

July 20, 2022 - Source : NEWS

With its Atlas MK II rocket, Polytechnique's technical society has won first place at the Spaceport America Cup 2022 - the world's largest rocket competition. Held from June 21 to 25 in the New Mexico desert (U.S.), the Polytechnique team earned top honours in the  "Altitude 10,000 feet - Liquid, hybrid or other propellant engine designed and developed by students" category.

The Oronos Technical Society with their Atlas MK II rocket (Credit: Oronos).

The goal of the competition: to propel a rocket to an altitude of 10,000 feet or 30,000 feet as accurately as possible – all while taking with it a scientific payload. Rockets were launched from the Gateway to Space terminal at Spaceport America, the world's first commercial space center, the same location where Virgin Galactic's suborbital flights will take off. The event featured over college and university students 150 teams from 30 countries, and was hosted by the Experimental Sounding Rocket Association, a U.S. organization whose mission is to foster and promote engineering knowledge and experience in the field of rocketry.

This year, Oronos presented the Atlas MK II rocket in the "Altitude 10,000 feet - Liquid, hybrid or other propellant engine designed and developed by students" category. This very rocket is ‘version 2.0’ of the winning rocket from the 2019 edition of the same competition.

More than 50 Polytechnique students worked diligently to create a rocket that would be even more efficient than its predecessor, by making major improvements to the engine and avionics, thus increasing the rocket's performance tenfold. With this new engine, Oronos was the first Québec-based team to develop, launch, and recover a hybrid engine developed entirely by a group of students.

"The entire team is very proud of its performance at the Spaceport America Cup 2022," said Lilly Hakem, Oronos' Communications Director and aerospace engineering bachelor's degree student. "For the vast majority of Oronos members, this was their first competition. Thanks to our high degree of preparation, as well as our efficient and automated launch systems, we were able to launch as soon as a suitable window opened."

Reaching the podium was no easy feat for team members. Critically, the team had to change rockets mid-year due to problems with their originally planned model. Yet, Oronos members quickly adapted to the change, redoubling their efforts to prepare Atlas MK II in time for the competition.

"On the road heading to the competition, our mobile launch pad lost one of its wheels. On-site, weather conditions delayed the launch. Although there were many unforeseen circumstances, we were able to overcome them, thanks to the hard work and tenacity of everyone involved. We were able to test all the systems ahead of time and thus have a successful flight. Atlas MK II 

even reached a higher altitude than Atlas MK I which was launched in 2019!" commented Lilly Hakem.

Success has been written in the stars for the technical society, in 2012, 2013, and 2014, Oronos-developed rockets won first place, beating teams from Brazil, Canada, the United States, India, and Turkey. In 2018, the team won the competition’s innovation award for the vortex injector developed for the team's in-house hybrid engine.

Technical details - ATLAS MK II

  • Maximum speed: 860 km/h
  • Maximum Mach. 0.67 (0.67 times the speed of sound)
  • Maximum acceleration: 4.49 G
  • Length: 165 inches
  • Payload: Device with the ability to generate electricity from the rocket's vibrations

Congratulations to Oronos Technical Society members!

Learn more

Oronos Technical Society website
Spaceport America Cup website

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