Student rocket team wins at national competition

Student rocket team wins at national competition

RMIT's student-led rocket team have been notching up some big achievements, now they're officially among Australia's best.

The team, who call themselves HIVE, designed and built a rocket to fly just over 9km high and win this year's Australian Universities Rocket Competition: Thunda Down Under 2019.

They even successfully conducted a groundbreaking scientific experiment while up there.

HIVE Engineering Team Leader and PhD student James Kirby said the emotional win was just another step in the team's incredible journey.

"To prove our unique capability at RMIT to launch scientific payloads to 30,000ft using a fully reusable system is a huge step for the RMIT HIVE Rocket team but it's also just the beginning," he said.

"We aim to double its target altitude with each consecutive year while developing systems capable of launching past the Karman line at 100 km - the boundary of space."

Emotional team members watch the winning launch. Emotional team members watch the winning launch.

HIVE has been a huge success since it first launched onto the Australian rocketry scene in April 2018. Prior to this week's win at the main event, HIVE had won stages one and two of the competition.

Kirby said HIVE provided a valuable space for students to work together to solve complex challenges within an innovative and collaborative environment.

“Our aim for HIVE was to have a team that’s open across the university and combines the different skills of a diverse team. HIVE is not just about aerospace, it’s about bringing people together.”

Since June 2018, the team has launched six rockets, with each one getting larger and more complex.

“The feeling of a successful launch is just incredible,” Kirby said. 

Rockets in the competition, held in the skies over Queensland, were required to achieve an altitude as close as possible to the target – with penalties imposed for over or undershooting the altitude goal.

HIVE won the 30,000ft category, or just over 9km.

The competition also required teams to design and build a novel and innovative scientific experiment to be carried to the specified altitude.

HIVE successfully delivered an exciting microgravity experiment which tracked the behaviour of magnetic fluids in microgravity, which could significantly increase a satellite’s longevity when used in a small satellite propulsion system.

Overall, students were scored on their preliminary design, the quality and innovation of their manufactured rocket, the rocket launch trajectory and the safe and accurate recovery.

RMIT's student-led HIVE rocket team, now officially among Australia's best. RMIT's student-led HIVE rocket team, now officially among Australia's best.

The Sir Lawrence Wackett Centre, RMIT's Aerospace and Defence flagship, supported HIVE in their preparation for the competition.

Centre Director Professor Michelle Gee said RMIT is in an excellent position to become a world leader in supporting the transformational growth of industries such as Aerospace and Defence.

“What RMIT aerospace and defence research and HIVE are doing is fantastic.”

“Across the University we are delighted to be able to offer a wealth of expertise across Aerospace and Defence, including artificial intelligence, innovative space systems, and advanced materials and manufacturing.”

Advisors from Boeing and BAE Systems have guided the team in developing robust engineering processes and technical documentation, and mentors from the Victorian Government have assisted in shaping HIVE’s strategic plan.

Kirby said the industry mentors had helped shape the project and made this success possible.

"Through these collaborations and partnerships the HIVE student team has had the opportunity to implement industry standard design and review processes - and to learn directly from experts in their fields," he said. 

"We'd like to thank all our supporters so much for coming on this incredible journey with us."

Story: Jasmijn van Houten and Michael Quin 

24 April 2019


24 April 2019


  • Aerospace & Aviation
  • Student experience
  • Science and technology
  • Industry
  • Defence

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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.