The new board for 2024

It is simply in the nature of working on a big project like ours as a student in your spare time that your availability can change without you being able to prepare for it. This has been the case for two of our most current board members. As they no longer have the time to focus on ASTRA in between their studies, our CFO Arne Stemme and our secretary Frederic Bolgen are stepping down from their positions as of May. We would like to thank them for their great contribution to our project and wish them all the best in their future endeavours!

We are at least as happy to welcome our new board members! The position of CFO will be taken over by our former Deputy CEO, Kevin Matjeka (3rd from left). Having worked on our sponsor relations for the past year, he is very familiar with our financial situation and we are delighted to have him taking over our finances. The position of Deputy CEO will be taken over by our Propulsion Team Lead Taro Tokita (1st from right). As he is an integral part of our technical work, his expertise will be a great help in making more informed decisions on our board regarding all things technical. Finally, we also have some new blood on our board. Sara Nufal (3rd from right) joined the project management team just last December, working mainly with Kevin Matjeka on sponsorship and helping to organise our recent networking event with Starthaus Bremen. 

The new board starts it’s term at an exciting time: We are just starting to test the subsystems for our new rocket Phoenix for this year’s EuRoC 2024 competition. There is still a lot of work to be done and money to be raised in order to be able to compete.

So without further ado, let’s get to work and reach for the horizon!

Members of our team at EuRoC 2023

Our year 2023

In time for the new year, we want to take a look back at the year past. We have learned so much and grown beyond ourselves. We were able to celebrate many successes, the small ones as well as some bigger ones. We made incredible progress in all teams, gained new experiences and have now reached a new and exciting point in our association’s work.

But let’s take a look at everything from January 2023 on:

At the beginning of the year, we organized our first networking event in cooperation with Starthaus Bremen & Bremerhaven – and it was a complete success. We received so much positive feedback that we are now organizing this type of an event on a regular basis. 

In the meantime, our technical teams have finalized many manufacturing and production processes and completed some important rocket parts. For example, the Structure team produced the final CFRP-reinforced tank. And our Aerodynamics team simulated the trajectory and designed our fins. 

From April 2023, the major test phase of our rocket subsystems began. We carried out the first Hotfire test in the DLR institute of Space Propulsion at Lampoldshausen. We tested the propulsion of our rocket and the load capacity of our tank. 

Meanwhile, the recovery team tested our parachute at the wind tunnel test facility of TU Delft, Netherlands. There, the parachute and the ejection system were tested in a wind tunnel at a maximum speed of 100 km/h for stability and tear resistance. We were also able to celebrate our first major success of the year there: our parachute works! 

Of course, our avionics team was also involved in all these and other tests. They constantly developed the flight computer further and put the individual parts together.

In the summer, we then set off for a second hot-fire test, again at the DLR in Lampoldshausen. There we experienced another great success: we had a successful blowdown with 10s thrust with an average of 2.2 kN. Our tank also withstood a pressure of 90 bar.

On top of all these successes, we had the great opportunity to travel Portugal to take part in the annual EuRoC rocket competition. Although we were, unfortunately, unable to launch our rocket there, we were able to gain many insights into the work of other teams, receive professional feedback on our design, and see other rockets being launched. 

We are especially happy about the amazing report in Buten un Binnen that shows our attendance at EuRoC and presents our association in a vivid and authentic way. We would like to thank Anna-Lena Borchert once again for this wonderful opportunity! 

Back in Germany, we kicked off our next networking event in cooperation with Starthaus Bremen & Bremerhaven, this time focusing on sustainability in space. We were delighted to welcome guests such as Holger Oelze (CEO ZARM Technik AG), Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Michal Kucera (University Bremen) and Siegfried Monser (Space Co-Ordinater Bremen). The discussions and exchanges with people from business, science, politics and society were incredibly enriching. 

Towards the end of the year we started designing our new rocket. We want to launch this at EuRoC 2024. We have incorporated the feedback and other requirements and are now implementing this in our new designs. 

We were also able to attend the Space Tech Expo in Bremen for the third time in a row and share our enthusiasm for space with people from all over the world. 

At the end of the year, we said farewell to our old executive board and re-elected them. We would like to thank our former board for their supportive work over the past year and wish the members who are leaving us all the best! We are very grateful to welcome two new, extremely committed members to the board and look forward to your ideas and suggestions! 

We would also like to thank our sponsors very much. Without your material, informational, and financial support we would not have been able to do any of this!

We are incredibly excited about the year 2024 ahead of us, to all the challenges we will overcome and all the successes we will celebrate. See you in one year! 

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Introducing our new Executive Board

ASTRA e.V. members elected the new executive board of inspired and driven people who will shape the future of this organisation. We are looking at an exciting year ahead which will include the beginning of our manufacturing and testing stage, the beginning of our fundraising and marketing campaign as well as a lot to be done to build meaningful cooperations for ASTRAs future.

Mika Bauerfeind is the new CEO of ASTRA. He is currently in his third semester of the Space Engineering Master Program at Uni Bremen and has been with us from our very beginning in early 2021. Mika has been an integral part of the Project Management Team throughout and filled the role of Deputy CEO in the previous tenure of our executive board.

Introducing our new Executive Board

Mika Bauerfeind – CEO of ASTRA e.V.

“I am working with ASTRA because it is a unique opportunity to gain practical experience you simply do not get in your studies. It also really motivates me to work in a team with all our dedicated and hard-working members to accomplish our target, reaching the Karman-Line.”

Our two Deputy CEOs are Jesaiah Coy and Taha Merchant.

Jesaiah Coy is a Space Engineering Student in his third semester at Uni Bremen. He Has been with ASTRA from the very beginning in early 2021 and has been our Chief Engineer and part of the Mission Management ever since. His vision of Project Karman and extensive knowledge make him an invaluable member of this organisation.

Jesaiah Coy – Deputy CEO of ASTRA e.V.

“I am excited to continue pioneering the journey of our rocket group to the Karman Line as part of the ongoing effort to democratize access to Space.”

Taha Merchant is in his third semester of the Space Engineering Master Program at Uni Bremen. He has been with ASTRA from the very start and is the Leader of the propulsion team. With his positive nature and relentless work ethic we are delighted to have him on board and form the future of ASTRA with his help.

Taha Merchant -Deputy CEO of ASTRA e.V.

“I am excited to join the Astra board as I have always had a very optimistic belief in Astra’s capabilities as a team and I hope to help it take one step further.”

Arne Stemme is our new Chief Financial Officer. He is studying economics in his Bachelor and joined ASTRA in Oktober 2021. He is the head of Marketing and also leads the fundraising campaign. Arne brings exceptional experience and Know-How that will take ASTRA to a new level and will make the realisation of Project Karman possible. We are excited to see how he will shape ASTRA and its future.

Arne Stemme – CFO of ASTRA e.V.

“My passion has always been to take on complex challenges, from the development of an idea to its implementation. Be it the development of a gutter cleaner as part of a contest or the management of a fictitious bank in a banking simulation game. The business game gave me an exciting insight into the world of business and finance. Now it’s time to put the theory from business administration studies into practice.”

Lotta Dräger is the new secretary of ASTRA. She is in her third semester of the Space Sciences and Technologies Master Program at Uni Bremen and has been with ASTRA from the beginning in early 2021. Throughout her time at ASTRA Lotta has been a valuable member of the Project Management Team and filled the role of secretary in the last tenure of the board already.

Lotta Dräger – Secretary of ASTRA e.V.

“There are few things more exhilarating than working with driven and like-minded people on a passion project. At ASTRA we have just that and I am thrilled to be a part of this team and make our vision a reality.”

We would like to take this opportunity to introduce one more important position in ASTRA here:

Sahana Shastry is our Chief Operation Officer.

She is in her final semester of the Master Program Space Sciences and Technologies at the Uni Bremen. Sahana has been working with ASTRA since June 2021, with her focus area being operations and testing. She has been working relentlessly and is an invaluable member of our core management structure. We are so excited to see what the future holds and how she will impact ASTRAs future.

Sahana Shastry – COO of ASTRA e.V.

“My main motivation comes from seeing the project through the many phases and ensuring the aspect of all the subsystems coming together to achieve the mission objectives.”

As you might have guessed – we are very excited about this team and what we can achieve together. The next year will bring a lot of challenges but everyone at ASTRA is ready and eager to get to work. Even though this post is meant to introduce you to our new management, we always like to point out that we need all 40 students contributing to ASTRA to make Project Karman possible and are thrilled to have so many great minds at work. Thanks to all the support and hard work from everyone we have come a long way already. This does not mean we are close to be done though – we are only getting started..

So let’s get to work and Expand our Horizons!