Interviewer Nahum Gale
Interviewee Simon Rosenzweig (Treasurer)
Photo by Ella-Maude Wilson
What and who is the UniSA Space Club?
We are a group of students interested in space! We run a variety of activities like, for example, your typical rocketry stuff. At the moment, we build projects like water rockets and things like that, through 3D printings as well. We are all just fascinated with space and would love to get into that area.
Does the club tackle more the engineering side of rockets and space travel or the astronomy angle?
I would say more the engineering angle at the moment. I, for example, am an engineering student, but we do have business students, IT, PhD students all of which are on the exec as well. So, it is kind of a mix. But even though it is engineering mostly, its not like we are experts in this field. It’s a completely different world to what we study at uni; so, we are all just a bunch of students with mainly a fix on engineering.
What are the main activities that the club engages with?
Projects are what we mainly try to engage in. We used to participate in the Australian Universities Rocketry Competition which is basically a bunch of unis, or, more specifically, a student run event, where the clubs will design and fuel a rocket that shoots 10,000ft or 30,000ft and basically you have to build a rocket that gets closest to that distance. But with the whole SA Rocketry Legislation and their whole classification of explosives, we have had to pull out of that one at the end. But we are certainly aiming to attempt that again in the future. Our main aim though is to build up the club and once we get big with enough funding we will try and participate in that whole event again.
We also have run workshops on rocketry simulations and all that in the past; it is really space orientated from a hardware point of view, a physical point of view. Typically, we run the workshops by showing [guests] what we do and have them follow along with us as well as also have them add their own ideas to it. So, we start off by running through the whole basics with them and then having them expand on it, basically adding functionality and making it more interesting.
Maybe in the future we will look at running a space program games night, but that will probably be when COVID settles. That’s the whole goal, in regards to events, we are going to try to aim to have industry nights with industry people coming in to have a chat.
“We are all just fascinated with space and would love to get into that area…”
What have been the biggest successes and events you have found from your time in the club?
Definitely avionic workshops which compiles electronics, writing up code, doing a bunch of sensors and data. They have done pretty well in the past. I guess [the club] is all about things that uni courses don’t do a lot of, especially with engineering as it is all mainly fun projects.
What is the general atmosphere and anticipation you all build up in the Space Club?
It is the mix of having fun whilst all learning, I would say. We will play with rockets, water rockets, go through the whole prototype design, pressure test it, blow things up, and see how it goes, having a little fun along the way.
What does a normal launch day look like for your club?
It’s fun! When we build [a rocket], we have to go test it out eventually and see how it goes. It’s all about the anticipation of how well it is going to perform.
Now, we haven’t had a propulsion launch in a while, but we currently do water rocket stuff, like it is pretty simple and no massive checks are needed. But on a check, we obviously can’t launch near airports and that; we have to make sure we have the air clearance per say. As for what a water rocket is… imagine a Coke bottle upside down and you have a bit of water in it, a bit of air in it. You pressurise the whole thing, so the water skirts out and the rocket goes up in the other direction. Obviously, the more pressure you put in there, the higher it will go, because you have more thrust. Obviously, the 3D printing side of things optimise it for the highest pressure possible. Stick some electronics to it. Add fins, because without fins it wouldn’t be stable. Basically, it is about simulation, but a lot of it is trial and error.
“We will play with rockets, water rockets, go through the whole prototype design, pressure test it, blow things up, and see how it goes, having a little fun along the way…”
You also have to find the materials to print it out of. You have to find out what is best. There is the whole budgeting side of things, mainly so it will actually fly and is not too heavy. Really early on in this project, we chucked some initial designs together and that was about it, but obviously 3D printing can take a while to do. Design is pretty critical, but the main thing is having it all checked over by other people. Then we organise the launch, where we are launching it from, when it will all happen and making sure it goes well. We work in teams with scheduling and there is a lot of documentation and management.
A successful launch for us is anything really! If it launches up and beats one of our records; as long as it is a bit of fun!