Monday, October 08, 2018

Canadian Rocket Teams Spread Their Wings

          By Brian Orlotti

The million dollar Base 11 Space Challenge, announced with much fanfare in June 2018, continues to move forward.

Adam Trumpour in an earlier incarnation, as a member of the University of Toronto Aerospace team (UTAT) in 2015. Trumpour was first profiled in the October 13th, 2014 post, "Canadian Entrepreneur Returning Rocketry to its Roots." Photo c/o Facebook.  

As part of a recent interview with the author, Base 11 Challenge safety expert Adam Trumpour discussed the final selection of the Canadian teams that will compete in the contest. Trumpour is a Canadian propulsion engineer who spends his days working at Mississauga ON based Pratt and Whitney Canada.

The Challenge promises a $1Mln USD ($1.3Mln CDN) prize for the first student-led university team to design, build and launch a liquid-fuelled, single-stage rocket to an altitude of 100 km (aka the Karman Line, the boundary between Earth and space) by the end of 2021.

The Base 11 Challenge is being organized by Costa Mesa CA based Base 11, a nonprofit science technology engineering and mathematics (STEM) accelerator, and being held at Truth or Consequences NM based Spaceport America.

The contest’s teams come from across Canada and the US and will be sponsored by a wide variety of government, academic, industry and philanthropic groups. Current sponsors include the Pasadena CA based California Institute of Technology (Caltech), the Vélizy-Villacoublay France based Dassault Systemes, the New York NY based Deloitte Foundation, the Washington DC based Smithsonian Institution, Spaceport America and New York NY based Verizon Wireless.

In addition, space industry leaders such as X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis and former US astronaut/plasma engine pioneer Franklin Chang Diaz have also endorsed the challenge.

Along with its confirmed sponsors, the challenge will make use of  Vancouver BC based HeroX, a crowdfunding platform spun off from the Culver City CA based X Prize Foundation following the 2004 Ansari X Prize competition.

The Canadian contingent at the Base 11 Challenge will comprise teams from multiple universities including:
  • The University of Toronto
  • Concordia University
  • McGill University
  • The University of British Columbia
  • Simon Fraser University
Trumpour made a point of highlighting the teams’ technical skill, recently demonstrated at this year’s Spaceport America Cup, held from June 20th - 24th in Las Cruces NM. McGill University’s team won the competition, while Concordia and U of Waterloo took first place in the advanced solid fuel rockets and advanced hybrid/liquid fuel rockets categories, respectively.

A driving force encouraging Canadian teams to join the Base 11 Challenge, Trumpour is also aiding in the contest’s design as a member of its safety council, conducting advanced safety training for all teams.

His eyes fixed on history, Trumpour also said that a successful launch by any of the Canadian teams will be momentous, as it will mark the first time that a Canadian liquid-fueled rocket will have reached space.

The Base 11 Challenge’s first milestone prize of $50,000 USD ($60,000CDN) for the best engineering design, safety plan, and outreach strategy will be awarded at the 2019 Base 11 Aerospace Symposium & Expo, to be held in May 2019.

Past generations of Canadian space engineers, through ingenuity and determination, forged our country’s reputation as a leader in satellites, robotics and communications. As the next generation rises to a new challenge, those pioneers can rest well knowing that the future is in good hands.
Brian Orlotti.

Brian Orlotti is a network operator at the Ontario Research and Innovation Optical Network (ORION), a not-for-profit network service provider to the education and research sectors.

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