Designing rockets to reach space with Fusion 360


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Image courtesy of Imperial College London Rocketry


The sky isn’t the limit for students in Imperial College London Rocketry (ICLR). They have their minds set on space.

ICLR was founded in 2018 by four students studying aeronautical engineering at Imperial College London. Their mission? Educate and train students with everything possible about rocketry, compete in the European Rocketry Challenge (EuRoC) in Portugal, and reach space. Created by the Portuguese Space Agency, EuRoC is the first rocket launch competition for European university teams.

Fusion 360 has helped us to collaborate. Since it is a cloud-based platform, it allows us to share designs between different people.

—Charlie Aveline, student, Imperial College London

Student Charlie Aveline. Photo courtesy of Imperial College London Rocketry

Improving designs and team collaboration

ICLR is always testing, prototyping, and iterating to improve rockets or design a new one. With Fusion 360, the group is finding new ways to make their mission come true for a rocket that reaches space. ICLR is split into different sub teams, including airframe and recovery; electronics and payload; systems and integration; propulsion and altitude record. Each member of these various teams must work together efficiently and across disciplines.

“Fusion 360 allows us to operate like modern engineers…all developing different designs with different requirements into one big assembly,” says Kiran de Silva, student, Imperial College London.

Photo courtesy of Imperial College London Rocketry.

Fueling new ideas with generative design

When designing a rocket, weight and mass are important considerations. Advanced technology features in Fusion 360, such as generative design, help the students achieve new design goals quickly and easily.

“One of the most exciting features about Fusion 360 is the generative design workspace,” de Silva says. “It gives us a very simple interface but lets us visualize complex load paths.”

With close collaboration between the teams and ever-evolving iterations for their rockets, Fusion 360 helps them all work more effectively to reach their space goal.

Reaching new heights for EuRoC 2023

Since 2019, the team has consistently met new altitude and speed milestones, while also innovating designs for engines, electronics, and more. They're currently hard at work manufacturing and assembling Nimbus, which is their latest breakthrough design to compete at EuRoC 2023 in the liquid SRAD category.

Nimbus is pushing the boundaries of UK student rocketry. It’s powered by a 3kN liquid bi-propellant rocket engine and the first engine of its type to be successfully tested by students in the UK. The engine is held in the rocket by a thrust structure completely designed using generative design in Fusion 360.  Their goal is to propel Nimbus to a height of 3,000 meters or 10,000 feet, and safely deploy an experimental soft-landing payload.

With designs fueled by Fusion 360 and an intense passion to succeed, ICLR is on their way to breaking through the atmosphere and finally conquering EuRoC.