25 teams pre-selected for the 4th edition of EuRoC
The European university competition organized by the Portuguese Space Agency is back. For the 2023 edition of EuRoC, 25 teams were pre-selected, including two Portuguese teams.
The European Rocketry Challenge (EuRoC) is scheduled to return to Constância from October 10 to October 16. The Portuguese Space Agency organized the competition, which received a record number of 48 applications from European university teams. From these, 25 were selected to participate in the event. This is, once again, the largest number of teams selected for the event.
The Portuguese Space Agency expects to receive more than 600 students from European universities in Constância. This town in the Ribatejo region will be the center of the competition, and once again, the Campo Militar de Santa Margarida is the site chosen for the rocket launch. But 2023 brings news: for the first time, the paddock (the place where teams meet for assembly and technical evaluations of projects) will also be located in Constância.
For Marta Gonçalves, one of the project managers, this change “is a reflection of the continuous growth of the competition.” Also the manager of Education and Science projects at the Portuguese Space Agency, Gonçalves observes that “every year we have more teams, more students and better results. We hope to continue this trajectory in 2023.” For one week, Constância will be the home of hundreds of students.
Among them, once again, will be young students from Portuguese universities. As in 2022, two national teams have been selected for the competition. Team RED (Rocket Experiment Division), from Instituto Superior Técnico, hopes to continue its historical path in the competition with the Camões project. At their 2021 EuRoC debut, RED launched the first Portuguese university rocket; last year, they became the first Portuguese team to win a prize in the competition (solid engine category, 3 000 meters). On the other hand, the North Space team – composed of students from ISEP (Instituto Superior de Engenharia do Porto), the University of Aveiro and the Faculty of Science and Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto – debuts in the competition with the SPATI-I project.
Last year’s EuRoC award-winning team, the Skyward Experimental Rocketry, is also back in the competition. The Pyxis rocket won them several awards in 2022, and its successor Gemini will seek to take the dreams of these Italians even higher.
Last year’s edition winners of the EuRoC award, Skyward. © Portuguese Space Agency
In 2022 the Greek ASAT (Aristotle Space & Aeronautics Team) became the first team to launch its rocket twice in the same edition of EuRoC, and they will be back for this next edition. Meanwhile, the Swiss ARIS (Akademische Raumfahrt Initiative Schweiz) returns to the competition for the fourth consecutive time, never having missed any of the past editions.
“We went from six participating teams in 2020 to 18 teams in 2022. This year, with 25 teams selected, we have high expectations and we hope to exceed that number in the future. The competition is consolidating itself as a meeting point for these young university students who are increasingly interested in space,” says Ricardo Conde, president of the Portuguese Space Agency.
Only upon the date of the competition will it be possible to know the final number of teams and participants in the 2023 edition, because only then can teams ensure that their projects can be operationalized. “Last year we selected 25 teams, but as time went by not everyone was able to pass the check-points despite everyone’s efforts, and some teams were not in a position to launch. What we have observed is that many teams that can’t launch in one year, manage to launch in the following year, as they consolidate learning throughout that time,” says Inês d’Ávila.
Debuts and returns: two “quite positive” indicators
In total, there are 17 teams that have been in past editions. Among them are ASTG (Aerospace Team Graz) and TUST (TU Wien Space Team), from Austria, and the Norwegian Propulse NTNU. From Spain, Faraday Rocketry UPV and STAR (Student Team for Aerospace and Rocketry) are back, both debutants in 2022. Also back are the Swiss EPFL Rocket Team; the ICLR (Imperial College London Rocketry), from the UK; AGH Space Systems, from Poland; the French Air ESIEA; and the German Space Team Aachen.
Also returning are teams CTU Space Research (Czech Republic) and PUT Rocketlab (Poland), which in 2022 failed to continue in the competition despite being shortlisted.
Although the balance is in favor of the repeaters, the competition also has 8 newcomers. In addition to the Portuguese North Space, the following have arrived at the competition for the first time: ASTRA (Germany); AESIR (Sweden, represented for the first time in EuRoC); HyPower Bristol (UK); INROS (UK); KNK PRz (Poland); PoliTo Rocket Team (Italy); and WARR Rocketry (Germany).
Inês d’Ávila says that “it has been very positive to watch the evolution of EuRoC, looking at the returning and debuting teams.” For the project manager, the two indicators reflect “an increase in interest in rocketry all over Europe.” She adds, “the teams that already existed remain active and continue to engage in new projects, but at the same time, there are new teams emerging in various countries, and Portugal is a great example of this situation, which makes us very proud.” In addition to RED and North Space, EuRoC also received applications from the Fénix Rocket Team, which brings together students from the University of Coimbra and Beira Interior, and UART, from the University of Aveiro.
Promoted for the first time in October 2020, EuRoC challenges undergraduate and master’s degree students to launch their solid, liquid or hybrid propulsion rockets to altitudes of 3000 or 9000 meters. The competition is fully aligned with the strategic objectives of the Portuguese Space Agency, namely in the development of a cultural/educational framework capable of boosting the sustainable development of the space sector in Portugal, particularly with regard to contributing to Europe’s autonomy in accessing and returning to space.