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Rollon Renews Collaboration with Skyward Experimental Rocketry from Politecnico di Milan

Innovation | 7 September 2023

Rollon and Skyward, a student association of engineers from the Milan Polytechnic University, will be working together for the second consecutive year to launch a rocket during the European Rocketry Challenge. The Gemini rocket will be the entry in the 2023 edition of the competition, and its aerobrakes will mount linear rails supplied by Rollon.

Rollon is pleased to announce that it will again this year collaborate with Skyward, a multi-disciplinary association that brings together engineers from different faculties of the Politecnico di Milano. The goal is to design a new rocket that will be launched during the 2023 edition of the European Rocketry Challenge (EuRoC), the first university rocket launching competition in Europe.

This year, Skyward will participate in EuRoC with the Gemini rocket, which has an engine powered by a special hybrid propellant: nitrous oxide as a two-phase oxidizer and 3D-printed ABS making up the solid fuel.

The rocket will mount linear rails provided by Rollon for opening the aerobrakes, which will ensure the proper functioning of these crucial components despite the severe stress they are subjected to during launch. In fact, during the competition, the Gemini rocket engine will have to propel it up to the target altitude of 3,000 meters, although it is in fact designed to go beyond this altitude. Therefore, in order to succeed, it is necessary to be able to control speed – a task delegated precisely to the aerobrakes, which are regulated by the rocket’s control system. The extraction and re-entry of the aerobrakes are made possible by the linear movement of the Rollon rails. The strength and load capacity of the rails guarantee that the mechanism can operate perfectly at a speed of 1,000 km/h and at a sustained pressure of about 20 kg each.

This is not the first time Rollon has collaborated with Skyward on this project: the partnership began a year ago, when the Skyward team triumphed at EuRoC 2022 with the Pyxis rocket, which mounted the same rails on its aerobrakes as Gemini will mount this year.

The 2023 edition of EuRoC is scheduled for Oct. 10-16 in Constância, Portugal, and the official launch, to be held at the Santa Margarida military camp, can be followed live.

The collaboration with Skyward fits perfectly with Rollon’s long-standing goals of supporting the local area, research and technological innovation. In particular, the aerospace sector once again proves to be fertile ground for innovation to influence technological evolution. This a sector in which Rollon is able to provide expertise and know-how.


Skyward Experimental Rocketry

Skyward Experimental Rocketry is a student association of Politecnico di Milano founded in 2012 that now has more than one hundred members from different faculties (aerospace, mechanics, computer science, and electronics). Created with the intention of enabling students to get real practice with the theoretical knowledge they learned in class, it has achieved the goal of launching probe rockets beyond 1,000 meters.


The European Rocketry Challenge

Organized by the Portuguese space agency, the European Rocketry Challenge began in 2020 as the first European competition among student associations involved in rocket design and launching. Each year, teams from all over Europe come to Portugal to compete in a precision launching competition in two categories – 3,000 and 9,000 meters. Points are earned by getting closest to the altitude target and, later, retrieving the falling rocket at a specific location. Other awards are also given during the event to acknowledge the best technical report, best teamwork, best design and best flight performance.


Rollon: Modular Linear Technology for All Types of Automation

For over 45 years, Rollon has specialized in the production and development of linear motion systems. Today, the Group—which is active all over the world—is one of the leading providers of comprehensive solutions for linear technology, thanks to one of the largest selections available in the field of linear rails, telescopic rails, and actuators. Whatever the sector, application, or requirements, Rollon is capable of creating flexible mechanical automation systems and made-to-measure projects thanks to its vast range of modular linear components. If necessary, Rollon can also modify each individual component to custom specifications, or even develop brand-new solutions to order.


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