Chennai varsity students win prizes in space contests

September 18th, 2012 - 8:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Sep 18 (IANS) Students of the SRM University near here have won prizes in two international student aerospace competitions held in the US and China, an official said here Tuesday.

An eight-member team led by Sweety Prakash Pate, a final year aeronautical engineering student, won the third prize in the Undergraduate Space Transportation Design Competition 2011-2012 organised by American Institute of Aeronautics (AIAA).

The AIAA one of the world’s largest technical societies dedicated to the global aerospace profession. It conducts student design competitions and conferences all around the year to inspire and nurture young talent in the field of aeronautics and astronautics.

“The competition organised by the AIAA required participants to design and produce a business plan for commercial Earth-to-Orbit passenger vehicle. The vehicle should be capable of taking paying customers from earth to orbit and back for a variety of research and tourism purposes,” M. Ponnavaikko, vice chancellor of SRM university told reporters.

“This competition is an effort to encourage space tourism where not only astronauts but the common man can also take space rides safely,” he said.

“We just made the design and not a model. As per our design, the winged rocket can carry upto fifty passengers per trip and can make around 21 trips in a year. The task is to design a rocket and a business plan to carry 1,000 passengers a year,” Pate said.

The space vehicle, named ‘Navshitij Vahak’ - The Carrier of New Horizon, was designed to orbit at a distance of around 370 km from the earth and the rocket will be powered with a mix of liquid and solid fuel.

“At the lift-off stage, the vehicle will weigh around 300 tonnes,” Pate said.

The SRM team’s third position wins them a cash prize of $1,000. The university had bagged a similar award in 2010-2011.

In China, a different student team from SRM University comprising of S.M. Balakrishnan, Autham Mahesh and Harleen Kaur Maan won the second prize at the Robert A. Heinlein Space Innovation and Exploration contest held this July.

They were awarded the second prize, consisting of an individual diploma and prize money of $2000.

This competition is held every year in different parts of the world and is organised by the “Robert A Heinlein and Virginia Trust” based in Houston, USA.

The competition is organised in the memory of Robert A. Heinlein, a renowned American author in the genre of science fiction.

This was the sixth edition of the contest and India featured for the third time. The trio has bagged the second position amongst 20 finalists from various Asian nations.

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