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From teddies in space to a soft landing on Mars

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Ed Moore will describe how Cambridge University Spaceflight’s experiments with low cost access to space led to a new method for testing parachutes for landing on planets.

Cambridge University Spaceflight is a student society aiming to lower the cost of space access. It is working on rocket launching technology that will reach space for under £1000 a launch, and is conducting many interesting experiments along the way.

In 2008, Cambridge University Spaceflight launched four teddy bears 18 miles into space under a helium balloon. Parkside and Coleridge community colleges designed spacesuits for the ‘teddynauts’, and their photographs made national newspapers.

‘Six Minutes of Terror’ is how engineers describe the process of Entry, Descent and Landing on Mars. Heat shields, parachutes, retro-rockets and airbags must all deploy in sequence in mid-air. Any snag will lead to mission failure. Simulating this is difficult and real hardware testing is essential. But Mars’ atmosphere is one hundred times thinner than Earth’s, and re-creating it in a wind tunnel would be hugely expensive. Cambridge University Spaceflight devised and successfully demonstrated a cost effective method to test parachutes in a Mars-like environment. The resulting paper won Best Student Paper from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Ed Moore graduated in Engineering at Cambridge University in 2010. Whilst a student he was president of Cambridge University Spaceflight. His interests are in signal processing, control and systems design. He now works in the space industry.

Refreshments served from 18.45. Talk starts at 19.00. Ends at 21.00 following questions and discussion.

Free to attend. All welcome. Suitable for GCSE and A-level students. No need to register.

This talk is part of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (Cambridgeshire Area) series.

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