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Members of the winning team. Faculty adviser Carl Knowlen is at left, team lead Viggo Hansen is third from left, and propulsion lead Travis Edwards is fifth from left. (University of Washington photo)

The DAQ Destroyer isn’t some fancy new ice cream treat from DQ. No, it’s a badass rocket built by University of Washington students that just snagged the top prize in the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition’s advanced category.

The Detroyer was launched more than 5 miles high — or about 26,000 feet — and was powered by a motor that uses a combination of solid paraffin and liquid nitrous oxide, a hybrid propulsion system that is a “nontoxic, safer alternative to space agency rockets that use hazardous liquid propellants such as hydrazine, nitrogen tetroxide and fuming nitric acid,” according to the University of Washington release.

DAQ (or data acquisition) Destroyer is 12 feet long and weighing 130 pounds and made from aluminum and composite materials. All its parts were made on the University’s campus and engineering and construction took 18 months.

The students began the project in 2011 as part of a six-month graduate-level course, but it wasn’t ready for last summer’s competition. Instead, four students carried the project on as student club Society for Advanced Rocket Propulsion and recruited more members along the way.

The rocket’s motor achieved 93 percent of theoretical combustion efficiency, as compared to 95 percent the average commercial motor achieves. These paraffin/nitrous oxide motors are not in commercial use yet, and the University of Washington team says that this is the biggest launch of such a rocket that they know of to date.

The group also won the contest’s Furfaro Award for Technical Excellence, the last UW entry winning that award in 2009. Next up: They will apply for funding from NASA and other agencies to further develop the rocket’s propulsion technology.

Here’s the DAQ Destroyer launch video below:

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