ACSE-led SunrIde team successfully launch rocket ‘AMY’ & win prestigious Spaceport America Cup Prize

Huge congratulations to the SunrIde team for winning the 'Jim Barrowman Award' for best altitude prediction at the Spaceport America Cup 2018 with the successful launch of their rocket ‘AMY’, named after Britain’s famous aviatrix and University of Sheffield alumna, Amy Johnson.

Competing in the 10,000ft Commercial off the Shelf (COTS) category, against 140 teams across the world, SunrIde’s rocket reached the apogee of 10,017ft, achieving a remarkable 99.83% accuracy. 

SunrIde Rocket Launch

The Spaceport America Cup, the world's largest intercollegiate rocket engineering conference and competition, is a one of its kind event that took place in New Mexico, USA between the 19th and 23rd of June 2018. The SunrIde (Sheffield University Nova Rocket Innovation Design Engineering) team were the first and only student-led, UK rocket design team to take part in this competition since its inception.

Read more about The Spaceport America Cup.

The team, led by Jae Hyun Lim and Ankita Kalra, both ACSE MSc (Eng) students in Advanced Control & Systems Engineering and advised by ACSE’s Dr Viktor Fedun and Dr Gary Verth (SoMaS), consisted of 26 undergraduate, MSc and PhD level students spanning five Engineering Departments and the Department of Mathematics, with ACSE providing the core team members:

  • Jae Hyun Lim (MSc student)
  • Ankita Kalra (MSc student)
  • Andrea Schiona (MSc student)
  • Iulius Seniuc (MSc student)
  • Gopika Narayanankutty ( MSc)
  • Vishan Nair Birakasan (MEng, Second Year student)
  • Georgios Rontogiannis (MEng, First Year student)

SunrIde Team Photos

The students had to design, build and test a rocket as well as develop all the control systems related to the rocket stabilisation and ground station communication. Systems and control engineering design, technical, scientific and innovation skills were tested in full on Friday 22nd June when the team successfully launched and recovered ‘AMY’, with all systems working perfectly.

SunrIde Image 6

Following this success, SunrIde aims to consolidate its position as the leading student rocketry team in the UK and take part in future competitions.

We were able to talk to some very interesting people from very large companies in the field, such as; NASA, Blue Origin, SpaceX, ULA, Virgin Orbit, Jacobs, Boeing and Virgin Galactic. For me, that was something I really didn't expect and I believe that so far our horizons and contacts have been broadened a great deal, offering a future full of extraordinary opportunities.


This truly is an international team, with students from Malaysia, Greece, USA, India, UK, Romania and Italy. I am very proud of all the students involved in SunrIde and look forward to seeing their future progress.

Dr Viktor Fedun, ACSE Lecturer and Sunride Advisor

SunrIde Group Shot Holding Rocket

SunrIde has taken inspiration from the success of the previous SunbYte project that launched into the earth’s atmosphere in October 2017. SunbYte (Sheffield University Nova Balloon Experiments Lifted Solar Telescope) is the only UK project to win the prestigious REXUS/BEXUS (Rocket and Balloon Experiments for University Students) competition. The Nova balloon launched the self-made telescope up to 30km above the Earth to successfully capture images of the sun which aren’t distorted by the air. The telescope is the first of its kind to be built from scratch by a team of more than 30 UK students ranging from undergraduate to PhD level. The rocket has since been accepted by the High Altitude Student Platform (HASP) supported by NASA in a project known as SunbYte II. HASP is designed to carry student payloads to an altitude of 36km with a flight duration of 15-20hrs using a small volume, zero pressure balloon. The SunbYte telescope will be named after Helen Sharman CMG OBE, the first UK female astronaut. Read more about SunbYte here.

Following the success of the SunbYte mission, the Sheffield Space Initiative (SSI) was founded to further engage students in the science and engineering challenges involved in the exploration of space. Projects include SunrIde and Moon Works. The Moon Works project aims to develop a miniature lunar rover which can retrieve ice samples from the depths of moon craters. The student team will be using state of the art manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing and laser printing to rapidly prototype different versions of the rover. Read more about Moon Works here.

SunrIde Image 7

You can read more about the SunrIde team and follow their progress by visiting their website and Facebook page.

Read more about Amy Johnson and the Department of Automatic Control and Systems Engineering's namesake here.

SSI: Thank you for the support and funding provide by the Department of ACSE, Aerospace, Faculty of Engineering, IET, the Alumni Fund and the School of Mathematics and Statistics.