We were part of the 2019 Austrian Cansat Competition by the European Space Agency. This page will give you an overview over said project.

Cone is competing in the Austrian Cansat competition, this means we will launch a small satellite to 500m.  

After deployment the satellite falls back to earth and deploys its parachute. It will transmit live data during descent and we will receive this on our ground station.

But that not all for Cone,
we will attempt a “soft landing”, which means we try to touch down as slow as possible. To achieve this we originally planned to use a special “Pull-Up” mechanism. Just before touchdown the satellite was planned to pull itself up on the parachute string and touch down slow and safe.

During our development of this mechanism we discovered a lot of problems. Calculations proved that it would be possible, however not applicable on this scale. The motor would have been too heavy and too large. We tried to overcome this issue but in the end it showed the mechanism wouldn’t be ready in time. So we developed a new plan…
a duel parachute system.

Our drogue chute would open right after we disconnect from the rocket and keep our descend at a stable rate.

And at some altitude above the ground a second larger parachute will deploy from within our satellite. This main chute will slow us down to a save descend rate and we will touch down slow and save.

The final step was of course to actually launch our satellite at the competition. After completing the final drop-test at the Ars Electronica Center in Linz (Austria) it was time to head out to the launch site and prepare our satellite as well as the rocket.

Cone preparing the satellite shortly before launch

Our Cansat was integrated into the rocket and we were awaiting for the launch window to open.

Shortly before launch, and way too late to fix anything, we discovered our temperature sensor was sending clearly wrong data which confused our flight software as it tried to calibrate the ground level altitude.

We have liftoff!

Luckily our flight software recognized the anomaly as it detected launch and continued to operate without an altimeter.
Under clear skies the flight proceeded and we managed to take some beautiful pictures, if you are interested check out our Launch Gallery.

Even with a failed sensor our satellite managed to deploy the main chute safely and we had a soft touch-down.
After an easy recovery of our Cansat it was time to present our results and wait for the announcement of the winner.

To our disappointment – and after a lot of controversy within the jury – we barely missed winning the competition and came in second.

For further information check out the following websites:

ESA – What is a Cansat
Austrian Cansat Competition (German)
Cansat Project Timeline
About us