More than 50 years after man first stepped foot on the moon, the space race continues to inspire engineers and explorers, young and old alike.
And a team of ORT students has become the latest to take a stride towards a career in the aerospace industry after designing a winning entry in a space rocket-making competition.
The Galaktika team from the ORT Technology School in Moscow took first place in a national engineering championship supported by Moscow State University’s Institute of Nuclear Physics and Russia’s state space agency, Roscosmos.
Below: Watch how they did it
The ‘CanSat’ initiative is one of the leading engineering competitions for students worldwide. It stems from a project launched more than 20 years ago which encouraged young engineers to work towards sending satellites the size of a Coke can into space.
Galaktika consists of 11th graders Maxim Novikov, Alejandro Lastra-Grek, Alexey Zhukovich, Ilya Zholkovsky – and Yuriy Vinarsky, who graduated last year. The team independently developed and launched its rocket, overseeing every aspect of the craft including sourcing materials and using 3D printers to create parts.
While many teams entering the competition make a simple rocket, the ORT team’s design included a smart control system which makes it easier for the rocket to interact with the launch pad and for the students to interact with the on-board control system.
Maxim Novikov said: “We did several test runs – some were successful, some not very successful. But that helped us refine the rocket and its codes. By September 2020 we felt we were ready for the championship finals.”
After many sleepless nights preparing and finishing the rocket, and a few false starts, the team headed off to the finals and was surprised to be offered the chance to launch the Galaktika rocket as a demonstration in front of the gathered press.
“We agreed, of course,” said Maxim, “and began to promptly install launch equipment and prepare the rocket.”
After the final countdown the team sent an SMS message to the rocket and it successfully took off, soaring into the sky. Pleased with their efforts, the ORT students did not expect to win but were stunned when, after all the other teams’ rockets launched, it was the Galaktika name at the top of the scoreboard.
Maxim concluded: “During the year we gained a lot of experience and knowledge. It is a great honor for us to finish with the victory. Next season we plan to participate in a more difficult category and solve even more ambitious problems.”
Dan Green, World ORT Director General and CEO, said: “ORT schools provide leading technology and science education, ensuring students gain the skills they need for employment in sought-after fields. We are delighted to congratulate the Galaktika team on its victory and hope this is a launchpad to further successes.”
WATCH: ORT Technology School Moscow wins space rocket competition
The competition has in recent years been adapted for school teams to attempt to launch devices capable of reaching an altitude of 2km. NASA oversees entries in the United States, as does the European Space Agency in Europe. National and regional championships take place annually.
The student spacecrafts are designed to imitate a real-life, full-size rocket, with on-board computers, temperature and pressure sensors, and a radio transmitter. Each team must also assemble test apparatus while designing and calculating rescue systems such as parachutes. The rockets must be capable of transmitting information by radio to the ground following launch.
Competitions have run in Russia for a decade, with around 6,000 students representing 1,000 teams from schools and colleges across the country. The project has a high success rate – around 60% – of graduates choosing aerospace courses and many go on to enter the space industry professionally.