To reiterate, the goal of Argonia Cup is to launch a rocket to at least an 8000 ft apogee and then deploy and land a payload (golf ball) on a predetermined ground target. The rocket part is not extremely complex, its well researched and pretty sound science. Off the shelf motors were recommended, homemade were allowed, but the real challenge is returning the payload with accuracy and repeatability. The payload vehicle has to survive its landing enough that it can be launched again with minimal repairs. You can see all the official rules here if you want more information or participate yourself (you must be associated with a university to do so).
Going in we knew that we wanted a standard aerial vehicle of some sort, something with existing control algorithms. This way we could focus on mechanical design, deployment, and making it autonomous. We talked helicopters, quadcopters, gliders, darts, but finally came to rest on a plane. The main challenge was fitting the UAV in a rocket tube and a plane with folding wings was a good candidate for doing this. Seeing that it had been done before by aerospace companies was a good start. We looked at Lockheed and Raytheon in particular who designed the Outrider and Coyote respectively, both tube launched UAVs. Every video, picture, and animation we could find was analyzed by our team in attempt to reverse engineer their solutions. Identifying the differences in design and potentially why it was done made it easier to start work on our own.