Flying the best: How Ukrainian rocketeers are preparing for the World Championship

30 Jun 2023
Українські ракетомоделісти

On the 1 of July, the United States of America will host the World Model Rocket Sports Championship. Despite the difficulties with preparation, Team Ukraine is determined. The rocketeers say that they have almost perfected their rockets and are ready to test them in competitions.

Fifteen-year-old Sofia Fisun has been building rockets for over five years. While attending a Noosphere event, she saw a presentation stand with rocket models, got to know the rocketeers behind it, and got hooked. She now spends up to eight hours in the workshop every day, honing her skills and preparing for the World Cup in the US.

“I like this sport because of its culture, and the way everything here is precise and depends on getting calculations just,” Sofia says.

Despite her young age, she already has many achievements. Just this spring, Sofia took first place at a World Cup stage in Bulgaria and third place at the World Cup stage in Slovakia.

Rodion Struzman is 17 years old, and he has been involved in model rocketry since he was 12. He was introduced to it by a friend. Rodion explains that model rocketry is not even a hobby for him, but a way to rest and relax.

“Model rockets are something new. You build them and try to fly them as well as possible. What I like most is probably the precision involved. The rocket must be perfect in order to fly as high as possible,” the boy says. 

Rodion has many achievements in model rocketry, but he is most proud of the third place World Cup finish in the overall standings among adults, in which 120 participants from around the world took part.

On the eve of his trip to the US, Rodion feels determined.

“We have to bring back a good result and fly better than everyone else,” he says.

Ihor Volkanov, President of Ukrainian Spacemodelling Sports Federation and mentor to young model rocketeers, says that the past two years of preparation for this championship have proven to be extremely difficult  due to power outages in winter and the technical nuances of the competition.

“We solved all problems as quickly as possible,” says Volkanov.

For example, the organizers changed the class of engines to be used during competition, which meant that the engines which the Ukrainian model rocketeers trained on were no longer competition-worthy.

“We had to manufacture fundamentally new equipment for the new engines which the organizers required. Some models, especially replica models of rockets, needed comprehensive refitting. It was also not possible for us to carry out test flights in Ukraine because of wartime restrictions,” explains Denys Prydannikov, a trainer of athletes from Nizhyn.

Even under these conditions, Team Ukraine prepared and created new, almost perfect model rockets.

“We decided to build the models to maximize their aerodynamic qualities. We decided to increase their mass, but improve their aerodynamics,” Ihor Volkanov shared.

Team Ukraine’s mentors believe in their team. They are optimistic about future competitions.

“The athletes who went to the competition are among the strongest in Ukraine and the world. Let’s hope for the best results,” said Denys Prydannikov.

“I hope for a very successful performance by Team Ukraine’s youth, because all our efforts have been directed specifically at preparing for the World Championship. I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but I hope that our juniors will take the top steps of the podium,” says Ihor Volkanov.