Our booth at STE 2023

Space Tech Expo 2023

There is a saying in Bremen: “Drei Mal ist Bremer Recht” (translated: Three times is Bremen law). In line with this, we had the opportunity, and seemingly the Bremen social responsibility, to exhibit at the Space Tech Expo for the third time this year. In recent years, we have been able to make an incredible number of contacts, gain experience and exchange ideas with experts. This time of the year we get to meet many of our collaborators, partners, sponsors and fellow rocketeers. The knowledge exchange we have is an unparalleled experience thereby making it one of the most exciting events of the year for ASTRA e.V to look forward to. A huge shoutout to Gordon McHattie for his constant support for our presence at the Expo each year!

So, we set up our booth again this year and took part in Europe’s biggest aerospace trade fair. With more than 7,500 visitors, we were able to spend three days in a row talking, gathering ideas and sharing our enthusiasm for space. This year was very special for us: We were able to exhibit the rocket we built for the first time! Explaining our design, the function and the construction of individual parts was much easier as our assembled rocket was displayed in the booth itself. At the same time, we were able to get direct feedback from colleagues, managers, engineers, scientists and many more. This is, of course, super valuable and constructive for us. As we are currently working on a design for our new rocket, Karma 2.0, having this feedback gives us the opportunity to receive and implement suggestions, ideas and criticism directly.

In addition to lots of ideas and incredibly great conversations, the Space Tech Expo means one thing: lots of fun! Of course, we also enjoy walking around and looking at innovative exhibitors, testing out fun offers or listening to exciting talks. After all, that’s what brings us all together at Space Tech Expo: endless interest and enthusiasm for space!

Members of our team at EuRoC 2023

Our first attendance at EuRoC

Anyone who reads our website, talks to us, or receives a flyer from us knows directly: We want to reach outer space. We want to build a rocket that flies to 103.6 km, thus crossing the border to space. To achieve this, we are developing and building all the systems for a rocket which can achieve this lofty goal. 

But of course, safety is our top priority. That’s why it was clear to us from the very beginning that we would not simply launch our first rocket straight to 100 km. So what do we do? We decided to build a smaller rocket to test all of our systems and the design overall. This scaled down rocket would “only” reach an altitude of about 3 km, but will give us the opportunity to test technology and gain the experience we need to reach our final target. Accordingly, we are focused on building this smaller rocket KARMA. 

Over the last few months we have been working very hard to get closer and closer to this goal. We have completed many components, conducted countless tests of individual systems, and have also learned lots in the process. Then we applied to EuRoC 2023. EuRoC is a Europe-wide competition for student groups that build rockets. There you can launch different types of rockets to different target heights (3km and 9km). The rocket that most accurately reaches the designated target altitude wins the competition in its category 

After a long application period and a lot of preparation, a part of our team traveled to Portugal on October 7th – together with our 3m long rocket in our luggage. On site, many more tests were carried out and our rocket was fully assembled. Our engineers tried to implement as much feedback as possible in the short time and to improve and eliminate shortcomings in the rocket. Unfortunately, the time during the competition was not enough to change as much of the design as would have been necessary for a launch. Our launch was cancelled and our ASTRAnauts traveled back to Bremen. 

Of course, the trip to Portugal wasn’t for nothing. In the short time before and during EuRoC, we were able to make an incredible amount of progress in the development of our rocket. Through many tests we got a lot of opportunities to optimize details of our rocket. We will now collect the feedback we have received and take the time to incorporate it into our next design with one goal: to launch our rocket KARMA successfully in 2024!  

If you want to watch a short video about us at EuRoC, click here:

https://www.butenunbinnen.de/videos/studierende-bauen-rakete-100.html 

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Successful start – three Bremen initiatives create meeting space for space enthusiasts

The organizers counted around 65 participants at the first matchmaking event for aerospace, which took place last Thursday at the Digital Hub Industry (DHI) in Bremen. With this, the organizers – the Starthaus Bremen and the DHI in cooperation with ASTRA e.V. – have already achieved two of their three goals. At the first meeting of this kind, not only were local companies, associations and groups related to space travel able to present themselves. There was also a lively exchange and professional discussions. 

Bremen is one of the top locations for aerospace in Europe. With more than 140 companies and 20 institutes in and around Bremen, the region is an important innovative location for space technologies. It is therefore no surprise that Bremen is also one of the few locations in Germany where young people can study space technology with a variety of specializations. This broad offering is a particular advantage of the location, but also brings with it some challenges.

So far, there are hardly any places where young scientists* from the engineering-technological field can have a professional and interdisciplinary exchange. Yet the young professionals are also looking for precisely such connections with each other and interdisciplinarily with other fields such as law, economics, logistics or biology. Because they want to combine innovation and sustainability. Having a space to develop prototype rockets, launchers, mini-satellites or other technologies themselves would be another big plus for Bremen as a location for the international community. It is precisely this kind of networked work, coupled with dedicated minds, that is urgently needed by the growing space industry.

In order to establish this link, we at ASTRA e.V. organized a matchmaking event in cooperation with the Starthaus Bremen & Bremerhaven and the Digital Hub Industry (DHI). First, the Starthaus and we introduced ourselves. This was followed by three different young start-ups from Bremen: Women in Aerospace, Astrait and Iorbit showed the whole breadth of what aerospace encompasses in their presentations. Well-known faces from industry and business also contributed. For example, guests included Holger Oelze (Managing Director of ZARM Technik AG) and Janusz Heitmann (DLR). Prof. Dr. Antonia Garcia from Bremens University of Applied Sciences emphasized the importance of such a bridge between young talent and companies or research. It was not just a matter of following lectures, but of getting to know each other in an open setting, exchanging ideas and developing ideas together. 

After the stage program, there was time for discussion and lively exchange. In the process, we were able to make important contacts and find supporters. All in all, the event was a complete success with more than 60 active participants. Our conclusion is very unanimous: “This is exactly what we need. We’ll definitely repeat it.”

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ASTRA e.V. at Space Tech Expo 2022

The biggest exhibition for the space industry of Europe “SpaceTechExpo” took place in Bremen again in November 2022 and ASTRA e.V. got to be one of the exhibitors!
Every year this expo attracts exhibitors from the big players to small startups of the space industry who would like to present their ideas to an interested audience. This year was a special for members of space related student groups, because there was a group of booths at the SpaceTechExpo just for us!

Preparation for this event went smoother, because we already participated in 2021 and learned a lot from this. It was especially exciting displaying all of our new hardware protypes we were able to build in the last year. For the first time we had most of the final rocket parts to show to the public and this not only helped us getting more attention from curious persons, but also we got feedback and suggestions from some professionals or colleagues from other student groups.
Directly next to our booth there was the Dutch student group DARE and the Swiss student group ARIS as well presenting their projects. Talking with everybody at the SpaceTechExpo in person with the hardware directly next to us turned out to be very valuable! This lead to new testing opportunities e.g. for the drop test we got support from KST regarding this and from DARE with their wind tunnel.

In the end these three days were tightly packed for us at ASTRA e.V. with booth duty, B2B meetings and talking to other people at their booth. But it was absolutely worth the efforts!