Students of AGH UST designed the first Polish liquid-propellant rocket engine

photos from archive of AGH Space Systems

Members of AGH Space Systems Student Research Association have successfully conducted a complete test of the first Polish full-scale liquid-propellant rocket engine. Officially called Zawisza, the engine constructed by AGH UST students is capable of autonomous operation as an element of a rocket. 

Engines using liquid propellants are currently the most popular of all engines used in the space industry, thanks to their performance and scalability. For this reason, AGH Space Systems undertook to design the first Polish construction of this kind which would make it beyond the testing phase. The rocket engine produces 100kG of drag and, as an additional advantage, is fuelled by alcohol while using ablation cooling. In addition, the engine’s designers used nitrous oxide as oxidant, which is an unprecedented development on a global scale as no prototypes of this kind have ever been installed in rockets.

AGH Space Systems launched the liquid-propellant rocket engine project at the beginning of 2016. The innovative nature of the construction led to interim reports on the project being presented at a number of domestic and international events, like EUCASS Conference held in Milan or Geneva-based CERN research organisation.  

The next step to be taken in the upcoming academic year will be the construction of the first Polish liquid-propellant rocket in competition for the title of student world champions in rocket engineering. The team are planning to enter for June 2018 Spaceport America Cup – a prestigious rocket technology contest held in the US and supported by the leading aerospace companies including SpaceX, Blue Origin and United Launch Alliance. 

AGH Space Systems as a student research association has existed since 2014. Members of the team specialise in developing technologies for the space industry, these being mainly the construction of rockets, satellites, space probes and Mars rovers. The team have already won several awards at international competitions, including CanSatCompetition 2015, Global Space Balloon Challenge (where they beat 400 other teams) and European Rover Challenge.