Leeds' First Student-Built Rocket

The world is entering the most dynamic era of space exploration since the 1960s and a group of students from the University of Leeds are now entering the race.

Leeds University Rocket Association (LURA), are a student-led, multi-discipline engineering team capable of designing, building and flying sub-orbital rockets. Their mission is to prepare the Mars Generation: the engineers, astronauts and technicians that will start the first human colony beyond Earth. With space exploration ramping up since the turn of the century, NASA’s Artemis missions are aiming to return astronauts to the Moon as soon as 2024, and Elon Musk’s SpaceX hoping to reach Mars by 2026, the pace of innovation is record-breaking.

A photograph of two students walking across a field carrying a rocket between them.


Meet the Gryphon I, Leeds’ first-ever student-built rocket. The design process started back in May 2021, the team focused on simplicity, aiming to power the rocket with a commercial, off the shelf solid motor. Over the next few years, LURA is going to develop the technology and infrastructure to regularly launch scientific experiments aboard student-built sounding rockets. LURA say ‘launching sounding rockets provides the perfect opportunity to carry out otherwise impossible research into Earth sciences, atmospheric chemistry, microbiology, and material science to name a few.’

A photography of the Gryphon I-C launching in a field.


Last month saw the successful maiden voyage of the Gryphon I-C (G1-C), a more compact version of the Gryphon I. This first flight was designed to test the in-house developed avionics and recovery systems, whilst flying to a lower altitude of ~2,200ft. The ascent was smooth and very straight considering the windy conditions and the rocket was recovered safely and intact.

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The next stage will be the Gryphon I Validation Launch in March 2022 from the SARA launch site in Scotland. This will include a test launch, during this flight, the rocket will carry a unique 'black-box' payload to measure flight performance data and relay it back to the ground in real-time.

The culmination for the Gryphon I rocket and the team will be to travel to America for the 2022 Spaceport America Cup, where student rocketry teams from across the globe will compete. Last year, 75 teams from 16 countries launched solid, liquid, and hybrid rockets to target altitudes of 10,000 and 30,000 feet. LURA will be hoping to send the Gryphon I soaring up to 10,000ft above the New Mexico desert.

From July 2022 LURA will start the Gryphon II design process. If you are interested in taking part see their vacancy page for more details.

Team members include:

  • Theo Youds - Founder - Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Dom Buta - Chief Engineer - PhD, Fluid Dynamics
  • Jake Hollyman - Head of Aerostructures - Mechanical Engineering
  • Sam Kinloch Large - Head of Payload - Mechanical Engineering
  • Eduards Butans - Head of Avionics - Mechatronics and Robotics
  • Alisha Sharma - Head of Propulsion and Launch Operations - Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Freya Segar - Head of Recovery - Mechanical Engineering
  • Dhani Khapoor - Aerostructures Engineer - Mechanical Engineering
  • Kris Ermins - Aerostructures Engineer - Mechanical Engineering
  • Ninad Singh - Aerostructures Engineer - Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Dan Gibbons - Aerostructures Engineer - Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Arjun Narayanan - Aerostructures Engineer - Mechanical Engineering
  • Prarthana Chhaparwal - Aerostructures Engineer - Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Mohammad Reza Izady - Aerostructures Engineer - Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Tom Nussey - Aerostructures Engineer - Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Toby Thomson - Avionics and Recovery Engineer - Electronic and Electrical Engineering
  • Yudong Xiao - Avionics Engineer - Electronic and Electrical Engineering
  • Arthur Vie - Recovery and Payload Engineer - Electronic Engineering
  • Cem Mirata - Payload Engineer - Mechatronics and Robotics
  • Dan Arteni - Recovery Engineer - Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Andre Santos - Recovery Engineer - Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineering
  • Joey Humphreys - Propulsion Engineer - PhD, Mechatronics and Robotics
  • Hoda Gendya - Launch Operations Specialist - Mechanical Engineering
  • Katy Armstrong - Marketing & Outreach Specialist - History
  • James Tolcher - Strategy & Relations Specialist - Global Strategy and Innovation Management
  • Chloe Lloyd - Recruitment Specialist - History
  • Ben Adams - Photographer - Photography

Keep up to date with all the latest news visit https://leedsrocketry.co.uk/

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