Open Theses

You found a topic you are interested in?

Don’t hesitate to contact us. We can tell you more about your chosen topic and will tell you what your next steps are going to be.

Write us an e-mail to: 



Project EULER is going to be ARIS’ first supersonic rocket. At the SPAC in June 2020 in New Mexico, USA, EULER is aiming for a height of 30’000ft.


Predefined topics for the rocket team

This project pool has been suggested by ARIS alumni and active members based on their knowledge from previous years. They element things to improve, gadgets to develop and parts to be newly designed.

Ground communication

Design, build, program and test a system that allows for ground communications over distances of minimum 20 km with the possibility of expanding to at least 25 people. Each headset shall include push-to-talk functionality, and the possibility of storing the communications would be good to have. Prioritize reliability, speed of setup and cost.

Guided recovery

Guide the rocket during descent by actuating the parachute, as with gliders.
An online model of the wind will be computed on the rocket and updated.

Aerodynamic model

Combine flight data, windtunnel measurements and CFD simulations to validate the algebraic model describing the aerodnamic forces on the rocket.

Extrapolation of windtunnel measurements

Use low speed windtunnel measurements as a validation for CFD simulations and
extrapolate to higher speeds to allow a more accurate description of the aerodynamic forces at near sonic velocities.

Evaluation of materials

Reevaluate and improve the material choice on the different parts of the rocket structure to aim for a maximal weight reduction.

Model for shockloads

Creation and Validation of a Mathematical Model for the Computation of the occuring Shockloads in complex Recovery Systems of Sounding Rockets
Deliverable: Code thats adaptable for different concepts and Rocket sizes.

Modeling of shock due to touch down

Sounding rockets are recovered with a parachute and land with an approximate velocity of 9 m/s or more. This results in the damage of the lower parts of the rocket and can lead to further damage in the whole structure. To better design a rocket for these impact we suggest to model the shock loads based on different angles.

Smart composite strucutres

Design, manufacture and test a smart composite structures that can sense the strain and vibration they are under.
These composites could be integrated into the rocket structure, the hybrid engine casing or oxidizer tank. This would allow for validation of structural models, enable very early damage sensing and prediction and might ultimately allow us to lower the safety factor of structural parts, improving mass fraction. Other sensors could be incorporated into the structure, such as temperature sensors which especially for the hybrid engine casing or for characterizing the desert sun’s influence on the rocket structure could be investigated.
This is an advanced project that necessitates strong cross-disciplinary skill to execute successfully. It must be offered only to students with a track record of exceptional competence and independence.

Separation mechanism

Currently the separation works by building up pressure in the rocket structure, which breaks shear pins located at the site of separation. However experience has shown, that this system is both big and not the most reliable. Changing to a system which mechanically locks both parts of the rocket together (akin to a camera bayonett for example) and ideally also performs the separation via mechanical / electrical or magnetical force.

(e.g. Piston Actuated Separation, Mechanical actuated separation, Electromagnetical Separation (Usage of electro (permanent) magnet to fixate and separate the rocket at apogee))

New assembly for recovery system

At the moment the design of the recovery section is very time consuming to assemble. Everything is somehow connected and it is hardly possible to do different assembly stages simultaneously. This is not an ideal solution, especially if you think about the extreme conditions during assembly in the desert. Think about a design which is easy to assemble and also lightweight. When thinking about a new design look at TELL’s and HEIDI’s design and see where you could change or improve it. Maybe reduce the amount of screws or look where you could unite different parts.

Airbag-assisted touchdown

At the Moment Sounding Rockets of Aris are recovered with Parachutes, that reduce the falling speed to about 6m/s.
This ensures a safe Recovery of the rocket, but leaves the lower parts like fins and boattail unprotected.
If the rocket lands on a stone or other hard ground, these expensive and hard to manufacture parts can get damaged.
As a additional Protection measure for these Parts, an Airbag System, Inspired by the return modues of manned spacecrafts is proposed.
Deliverable: Validated Prototype (including Hardware and software Actuation) that can easily be adapted to Aris sounding rockets, wih the proper Design guidelines to adapt it. Design of the Airbag system, Location of airbag system, Testing (of airbags), Compatibility (of airbags).

Sideways parachute ejection

Deliverable: Validated Prototype that can easily be adapted to Aris sounding rockets, Evaluation of the optimum location for an ejection mechanism, Compatibility of the system with other structural parts of the rocket, Develop a Compatible Parachute(-system) for the sideways ejection, Develop a Concept for Guided Recovery of a sounding rocket based on paraglider

Plasma discharge actuator

Conception, development and validation of a plasma dicharge actuator, to be integrated into strategic locations for delaying flow separation and drecreasing aerodynamic drag. See the abstracts of the 2019 SAC, project 52 titled “Development of a Dielectric Barrier Discharge Plasma Actuator for Delaying Flow Separation Over a Rocket” for further details.
This is an advanced project that necessitates strong cross-disciplinary skill to execute safely and successfully. It must be offered only to students with a track record of exceptional competence and independence.

Launch ramp

Design, manufacture and test a launch ramp for 30’000 ft+ class rockets. The ramp must be light-weight, i.e. likely made primarily from aluminium. The challenge of this assignment lies in designing for operability, manufacturability and cost. In the process of manufacturing, the student becomes proficient in the use of a TIG welding machine which is an exceptionally useful skill for prototyping work in dynamic environment. The ramp must be able to accomodate other ground support equipment, like swinging cameras, power and fluid connections – manufacture of this equipment is however not part of this task.The ramp must be able to be taken apart and transported on the roof of a family car. It must be able to be launch ready within 15 min by a team of 6 people. It must be transportable to the US via air freight.

Braking mechanism at apogee

Right now, the horizontal velocity of up to 250 m/s makes separation and parachut deployment difficult.
Since airbrakes do not work at this altitude due to air density another method for slowing down has to be found. Thrusters oriented towards the way of flying can be desgined to slow down the horizontal velocity of rocket at apogee of 30’000 ft. Another possibility for decelerating the rocket could be to eject a small parachute at the engine end of the rocket which could afterwards also be used of recover one part of the rocket savely. 

Celestrial object detection

Develop a machine learning-based object detection system that warns people on the ground from falling objects like stones and automatically evaluates their threat. Detecting and classifying objects is one of the key skills of neural networks, making them an integral part of this project.

Electric characterization of space hardware

Solar irradiance is the only significant energy source for the Earth’s climate system.
The solar irradiance is measured with radiometers on spacecraft. In order to measure in absolute units (Wm-2), the on- board measurement circuits need to be characterized and tested before launch.

In Cooperation with Physikalisch- Meteorologisches Observatorium Davos / World Radiation Center

Additively manufactured fins

Design, analysis and testing of additively manufactured plastic fins for transonic and supersonic flights

Grid fins

Design,  analysis and testing of grid-fins

Aerospike equipped nosecone

Design, analysis and testing of a drag reducing aerospike equipped nosecone

Shock test facility with RUAG

Master Thesis

Attention is paid to the mechanical shocks that occur when the satellite is separated from the launcher, as they create a life-limiting load, especially for electronic components. For this purpose, the RUAG Space Test Center in Zurich/Seebach has several test systems at its disposal with which these separation shocks can be simulated.



Project RHEA was the first generation of hybrid rocket engines in ARIS. Apart from creating the first-ever student-built test engine facility enabling us to do our own test firings, a 500N test engine has been manufactured as well.

Using RHEA as a basis, project IRIDE is designing a 5000N hybrid rocket engine that will be implemented in the rocket by 2021.


Predefined Topics for HRE

Tank development

A minimal mass tank from fiber reinforced materials could be developed. Could be split in several subtopics:
– Simulation of ideal fiber winding angle and layer thickness
– Actual tank manufacturing

Aerospike nozzle

The aerospike engine is a type of rocket engine that maintains its aerodynamic
efficiency across a wide range of altitudes. It belongs to the class of altitude compensating nozzle engines. A vehicle with an aerospike engine uses 25–30% less fuel at low altitudes, where most missions have the greatest need for thrust.

Oxidizer tank

Design and Validation of an oxidizer tank for the integration into the sounding rocket.

Active pressurization system

Can be split into several subtopics:
– Development of an electronically controlled valve
– Development of control algorithm to maintain necessary tank pressure

Combustion chamber

A minimal mass combustion chamber likely made from fiber reinforced materials coated with an inert layer
to allow the grain to burn down to the chamber wall could be developed.

Additively manufactured nozzle

Develop a minimal mass nozzle, from fancy materials and advanced manufacturing techniques.
For instance using refractory metals and high-temperature ceramic coatings using 3D printing.

Development of main valve

Develop a minimal mass and minimal height footprint valve that can be electronically/servopneumatically/servohydraulically controlled. Ideally, it should allow for control of the mass flow rate and have very low pressure losses when fully opened. The valve may include fluid temperature, mass flow rate and pressure sensor elements. The valve must be compatible with nitrous oxide and will be used for a 5 kN class rocket engine. The valve or subscale prototype thereof can be tested first on a 500 N class hybrid rocket engine.

Fluid supply system 
CFD simulation

Simulate the whole FSS in CFD, calculate pressure losses as a function of mass flow rate at different temperatures,
pressures, valve opening angles etc.

Grain optimization

Several parameters can be optimized, new grain materials can be tried:
– port opening geometry
– regression rate enhancing additives
– I_s enhancing additives

LOX fittings

Develop ultra-light weight, thermal contraction compensated fittings for usage with liquid oxygen (LOX) for 20 kN+ class rocket engines. Perform hydrostatic pressure testing and cyclic thermal testing (and possibly build the equipment required) for qualify the fittings for flight.

Injector vaporization simulation

Develop a CFD simulation to model the droplet formation and vaporization of a nitrous oxide multiphase flow depending on the injector geometry (showerhead, vortex, swirl, impinging etc.) as well as the inlet and combustion chamber conditions. This project may be coupled with/included in the Injector Discharge Simulation and the Injector Validation projects.

Injector discharge simulation

Develop a CFD simulation to model the discharge coefficient of nitrous oxide through arbitrary injector geometries. The nitrous oxide is a multiphase flow containing liquid and gaseous nitrous oxide and possibly dissolved nitrogen, oxygen or helium introduced at high pressure in the tank. In addition the nitrous oxide is used close to its critical point, making an accurate simulation challenging. A heat transfer simulation from the combustion chamber side of the injector faceplate to the faceplate itself to the fluid may be coupled to the CFD simulation. This project may be coupled with the Injector Vaporization Simulation and harmonize well with the Injector Validation project.

Tank emptying simulations

Develop a high fidelity simulation of a nitrous oxide tank that models the conditions encountered during launch. The simulation parameters should then be fed to a simulation of the combustion within the hybrid rocket engine. Minimally, the simulation shall include temperatures of gas and liquid phase, tank outlet pressure and mass of gas and liquid phase, depending on tank outlet conditions. The simulation may include heat transfer effects from standing on the launch pad in the sun, effect of acceleration on outlet pressure (changing over flight duration), transient simulation of valve actuation, dissolution of pressurizing gas into the liquid phase, phase composition at the tank outlet.

Injector validation

Design, build and test a test bench where different injector designs can be characterized at different supply and back pressures (pressure chamber instead of combustion chamber). High-speed camera footage should be provided for visual analysis of droplet formation and vaporization. Pressure sensors should measure supply and back pressures, and a mass flow rate meter must measure the mass flow rate. Additionally, temperature control could be added. This project would benefit significantly from the Injector Vaporization Simulation and also from the Injector Discharge Simulation projects.

Done so far

Looking back to the two-year-old existence of ARIS, several projects have been finished, and some of them have successfully been implemented into our rockets.

predefined TOPICS



Our partner universities

The right mixture makes the difference


Make use of the possibility to join review with our industrial partners who support with their knowledge. Get feedback and suggestions from experienced experts and implement it in your system 


Use our workspace and the facilities of the Student Project House to build the first prototypes. Step by step, you come closer to your final outcome.


To give you the optimal support, we provide you wtih the knowledge of an ARIS member, who is an expert on your field of study.

Contact us

Get in touch


Auguste-Piccard-Hof 1
8049 Zurich