University of Sydney: Successful test launch a giant leap for rocketry team

Students from the University of Sydney’s rocketry team, the USYD Rocketry Team, have their eyes firmly set on gold after successfully launching their 2022 competition rocket in New South Wales’s far west.

After a two-year pandemic hiatus, the team will fly to the US in June to compete at Spaceport America Cup, an international student rocketry competition held annually in New Mexico.

Last week, the student team’s rocket, Bluewren, soared to a target height of 30,000 feet – roughly 9 kilometres – over the Menindee Lakes, a region near Broken Hill.

The rocket successfully deployed both of its parachutes, safely landing 3 kilometres from the launch site intact.

“We’re absolutely thrilled by the success of this weekend’s launch – it couldn’t have gone better. We feel confident in Bluewren’s design and engineering as we head to the US in June,” said team Executive Director, Bachelor of Engineering and Science student Alison Lockley, who has led the team since 2020.

Project Director Alistair de Vroet, who is also studying a Bachelor of Engineering and Science said: “I am incredibly proud of my team. Watching Bluewren fly and land safely was testament to the hundreds of hours that each member has contributed to this project.”

For many of the students in USYD Rocketry, this semester has been their first chance to socialise, work and meet other students in-person.

Vismay Bhadra, a second year Engineering and Commerce student, has enjoyed the on-campus experience of building Bluewren with students from across the university: “It’s been an amazing experience to be on campus, see everyone in person, and finally get back into the labs again.”


2022 will also be the first year the team will compete at Spaceport America Cup since the pandemic. In 2019, the USYD Rocketry Team was the first Australian team to ever compete in the competition, with their rocket Silvereye taking out first place in the 10,000ft category. In 2021 Spaceport America Cup held a virtual competition, with the Sydney team winning silver and bronze for their rocket, Firetail, and payload, Tetratheca.

The students have long placed great import on teamwork, camaraderie, and positive competition, for which they were also commended in 2019. They plan to take their good sportsmanship to the 2022 competition.

“The international space sector has long been defined by its collaboration and openness between nations. We want to bring this same approach to Spaceport in 2022 and look forward to meeting other world-renowned student teams,” said Alison Lockley.

The students will fly to New Mexico next month, to compete throughout the week commencing 21 June.

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