FVA 22 - Papier-Rakete

Since 1970, a group of six students from the TH Aachen and the TU Munich worked together on the development of a small solid rocket for high-altitude research. The aim of this work was to build as cheap a rocket as possible from commercially available materials, which should be able to carry payloads of l-2kg to altitudes of 60-80km.

The reason for the development of this rocket was a lecture in Aachen about the work of the mobile rocket base (MoRaBa) of the DFVLR, where Mr. Klett, head of the MoRaBa, offered the students to cooperate on different sub-problems in the construction and launch of sounding rockets. At about the same time, students K. and V. Brandtl from Munich approached the Mobile Rocket Base with a request to assist in launching small solid rockets they had built themselves. These two students had already participated in the competition “Jugend forscht” as pupils and had been awarded the first prize. Thereupon it came between the students of the FVA, the TU Munich and the institute of the DFVLR to the definition of the described project. A division of labor was agreed upon, according to which the Munich students were responsible for the development of the engine and the Aachen students mainly for the development of the airframe.

The FVA Annual Report 1973/74 states: “When the rocket was supposed to be ready, we in Aachen received the following message from the engine group in Munich: Rocket test stand of the MBB company almost completely blown up, otherwise all clear! Thus, the concept of the Brandtl cousins to produce a rocket engine from wound paper webs had almost failed.

Reconstruction of the test stand blast showed that something like the following had happened: The flames had not burned the paper tube from the inside out, but had penetrated between the layers from the front side. Due to this “excessive surface enlargement”, the pressure build-up was so rapid that the entire fuel burned in a very short time, i.e.: the engine exploded!

For this reason, the Brandtls created a new configuration, but it is still in the development stage. If this concept cannot be realized by the fall of 1974, a fuel with the required properties will be purchased from a company. For understandable reasons, the new burnup tests will no longer take place at MBB but at ERNO in Trauen.”

Well no tests took place there either. A few years later, Harimut Sendzig started a crash course in French, since apparently they now wanted to launch the rocket in Zaïre. On an already firmly planned audience with head of state Mobutu one wanted to convince this at least in confidence-inspiring French of the absolute harmlessness of the enterprise. However, political difficulties in Zaïre were probably to blame for the failure of this project.

In connection with the rocket project, voices were raised several times that did not want to grant this attempt the classification FVA-22, which is quite understandable from some points of view. But one should not forget that there have been much bigger projects in the history of FVA which ended without any success (e.g. ring wings). And for the failure of a quite serious project caused in such a way an Akaflieg should not feel obliged to the excuse.