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USM first Malaysian varsity to join rocket race in 2022 Spaceport America Cup

16/06/2022 10:43 PM

NIBONG TEBAL, June 16 (Bernama) -- Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) will debut as the first ever Malaysian team to join the rocket race in the 2022 Spaceport America (SA) Cup -- with high hopes that its design will make headway in the world's most prestigious intercollegiate rocket engineering competition.

USM is the sole representative of all public universities in the country to qualify for the 2022 SA Cup design-build-fly competition which will take place in New Mexico, USA, from June 20-25 which is a high-powered rocket launch conference between teams of the largest universities in the world.

USM WAU Rocketry team leader A.Vanmitha, 22, said her team of 11 undergraduates from the USM Engineering Campus will depart tonight on a Malaysia Airlines flight where MAS is one of the main sponsors of their trip.

Vanmitha, who is a Year Three student at the USM School of Aerospace Engineering, said they have been preparing for the SA Cup for the past six months, after qualifying through three stages set by the organisers.

"It is not easy to enter this big competition as we have to pass three stages, so that if we fail in the first stage we will not qualify for the next. Then we were ready to poise ourselves with a rocket design.

"We named the rocket 'HEBAT' as the first high-powered student-built rocket in Malaysia, where the rocket will carry a four-kg nanosatellite with a mission to measure environmental conditions and transmit data to earth stations," she said at the USM Engineering Campus here today.

Vanmintha was met after the HEBAT Rocket Launch ceremony and the handing-over of the national flag from USM Engineering campus director Prof Dr Nor Azazi Zakaria. Also present was the team's advisor Dr Norilmi Amilia Ismail.

Elaborating further, Vanmitha said the criteria of the competition took into account the concept of forming and building a rocket with enough propulsion to fly as high as 10,000 feet carrying a nano satellite payload, then land the rocket safely back to earth via a parachute.

"The main challenge faced in the construction of this rocket is to ensure that our team can control the rocket landing because a slight error will cause it to crash and shatter," she added.

She said a total of 191 teams participated in the early stages of the competition, before elimination to 151 and finally only 63 teams were picked to be in New Mexico for the final launch.

"We want to achieve the set altitude target and be among the highest ranking in the competition and hopefully the achievement of WAU Rocketry will be able to inspire and cultivate the interest of youth in Malaysia in the field of STEM, especially in space technology.

“We also hope to gain knowledge with this rare participation and it is possible that in the next 10 years, Malaysia will be able to build its own rocket to go into space," she said, adding that the USM rocket costs RM35,000 in construction.

Meanwhile, Nor Azazi said this pioneering entry will give the undergrads exposure to the space technology industry and the opportunity to meet with major companies of the space race in New Mexico.

He said apart from that, instructors can also use the project to hone their talent and this is an approach that can be implemented in shaping the workforce of the future.

“We hope their participation will give them the exposure as this competition is not an easy one for the students sacrifice time and energy not only to bring the name of the university to the world stage but to glorify the country.

"It's an experience that can't be bought with money because it is a new kind of education in the real world," he said.




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