Turkey dominated CanStat in Texas

Turkish universities dominated the annual global ‘CanSat’ student avionics and aeronautics competition, getting first, second and fifth places.

Held this year in Texas, the competition has nothing to do with satellites, but it does involve rockets, payload deployment, telemetry and, this year, autogyros.

In a nut shell, CanSat 2019 required students to construct a two-part payload that was launched to an altitude of between 670 and 725m – each university’s project was launched separately.

The CanSat had to deploy near peak altitude – “orientation of deployment is not controlled and is most definitely violent,” warned the organisers – and then unfurl a parachute to control descent rate to a target of 20m/s.

At and altitude of 450m, the CanSat has to eject its science payload, which had to be in the form of an auto-gyro with a descent rate between 10 and 15m/s.

The flying payload then had to transmit telemetry from sensors for altitude (using air pressure), external temperature, battery voltage and GPS position, as well as pitch, roll and blade spin rate from the autogyro.

On landing, all telemetry transmission had to stop, to be replaced by an audio beacon for location purposes.

Around 100 teams entered this year’s competition. These were ranked through preliminary design reviews, and the 40 highest ranked were selected for the launch weekend.

What ever the ranking, it looks like all the teams had a lot of fun.

“Although similar competitions exist for other fields of engineering – robots, radio-control airplanes, racing cars – most space-related competitions are paper design competitions,” said the Society. “While these are worthwhile, they do not give students the satisfaction of being involved with the end-to-end life cycle of a complex engineering project, from conceptual design, through integration and test, actual operation of the system and concluding with a post-mission summary and debrief.”