Campus and Community

“Baltasar” Rocket on view at Técnico until 18th November

The first Portuguese rocket to be successfully launched and recovered is on display at Alameda Campus (main building).

The “Baltasar” rocket will be on display at Técnico – Alameda campus (main building) until 18th November.

After “Aurora” and “Blimunda”, “Baltasar” was the sixth rocket developed by the Rocket Experiment Division (RED) – a project of AeroTéc (Técnico’s Aerospace Engineering Student Group) – and the first to be successfully launched and recovered. “Baltasar” ranked 1st in the 3 km category and 2nd in the general classification at the third edition of the European Rocketry Challenge (EuRoC), promoted by the Portuguese Space Agency – Portugal Space, from 11th to 18th October.

The team was composed of Técnico students with different backgrounds who worked “too many” hours, “some nights” and “holidays”, says Carmen Fonseca, Technical Director at RED. The funding comes largely from sponsors and is raised by the “management and marketing team”, explains Pedro Rosado, the team coordinator. The sponsorships, “mostly logistical”, involve workpieces designed by the students. “Baltasar” took the names of the space tourists who bought tickets in the crowdfunding organised by the team, in an attempt to get “the necessary” liquidity.

RED managed to build two rockets – “Baltasar” and his twin brother, “because it’s always good to have a duplicate” – with a “much smaller budget than the foreign teams in the competition”, share the students.

For next year, the team promises “a new rocket, even better” and sets their goal: “to win the EuRoC”. They want to come back and compete again in the same category, as “sometimes it doesn’t make much sense to go higher [9km]”, but rather to do better.

“Baltasar” carried on board a PocketSat developed by AstroCUP – a team of students and researchers from Técnico. The aim was to study “the effects of strong accelerations and other adverse conditions” on menstrual cups during the flight, explained AstroCUP. Women’s health in spaceflight is particularly relevant due to the impact of space travel on female astronauts. As it is not feasible to carry much cargo, women are forced to hormonally suppress their menstruation when they go into space.