Teeside team races for space with tiny rocket

Students past and present from Teeside University are aiming to launch a tiny rocket into space from the North East of England this autumn.

James Dent, who now works for Express Engineering, was a team leader on the project when he attended Teeside

The group is aiming to become the first university team to build and launch a rocket into space from the UK. Its TU2Space rocket, which stands at just 30cm tall and weighs 650g, will first be flown to 32,000m using a helium balloon. From there, the rocket’s motor will kick in, taking the tiny vehicle to an altitude of 120km at speeds of up to Mach 5.

Altogether over 50 students have been involved in the collaborative experiment, carrying out everything from research and testing, to simulations, balloon trials, manufacturing rocket fuel and marketing.  The initiative has also contributed to space and technology engineering research in the North East. James Dent, a former Teeside University student now working at Tyneside-based Express Engineering, was one of the project’s team leaders while he attended the university. A former banker, James worked part-time when he was transitioning from finance to follow his dream of becoming an aerospace engineer.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and received support, mentoring and flexible working opportunities from Express to help me complete my course and be part of the rocket project,” said 37- year-old James, from Blaydon, just outside Newcastle.

“I am excited to have graduated and am looking forward to new opportunities at work and continuing professional development with a goal to achieve chartered engineer status. I have always been fascinated by flight and thinking about how things that fly are made and assembled. I am STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) by default so to be working in the aerospace team at Express is just a dream come true.”

John A Patterson, CEO with Express, added: “James first joined our team as an intern but he quickly showed great aptitude and attitude and so we were pleased to be able to provide him proper employment.

“His enthusiasm for his work is infectious and I am sure that he will continue to be a valued member of our team as he increases his skills and knowledge of the engineering industry.”