The weekly three-hour classes introduced the students to the ‘tyranny of the rocket equation’ and to launch vehicle design, stress analysis, stability and control. In addition to the theory, the course included a design problem selected from current commercial space industry headlines; specifically, the German government’s plan for a North Sea spaceport. As a way of strengthening the national space programme, the objective would be to insert small payloads into polar and sun synchronous orbits.
Student teams were tasked to determine the delta-V required to reach the specified orbits from the sea-based launch site and then estimate the velocity losses/gains from propulsive efficiency, gravitation loss, aerodynamic drag, and rotational velocity of the earth at the launch latitude. Based on this delta-V budget, the students evaluated staging alternatives, propulsive systems, configuration layout, vehicle structure, flight loads, and vehicle dynamics and controls. During the final two weeks, each team developed a conceptual vehicle design for placing a 51.5 kg payload into a 300 km sun synchronous orbit.
Many of the 24 students who participated in the course want to work in the field of aerospace after graduation and saw it as a way of broadening their expertise and getting an insight into a field that is not taught at HAW Hamburg. For Muhammad Iqbal Aziz the vision goes further: ‘In the next two to three decades, space travel will no longer be "fancy". Tourism around the moon will become a possibility. Perhaps our grandchildren will have a school trip around the moon with their classmates and teachers. It is very possible that in 50 years we will develop a colony or civilisation in Mars. Better be prepared for it.’