UKZN Aerospace Systems Research Group unveils Phoenix -1A Hybrid Rocket
UKZN’s Aerospace Systems Research Group unveiled the Phoenix-1A Hybrid Rocket recently in front of excited onlookers who heard project leader Mr Jean Pitot outline the history of the projectile.
The rocket was designed and engineered by Masters students working within the Mechanical Engineering discipline.
Established in 2009, the Aerospace Systems Research Group led by Mr Michael Brooks and Mr Jean Pitot focuses on the development of propulsion systems.
The Phoenix Hybrid Sounding Rocket Programme aims to develop a series of small sub-orbital or sounding rockets that will eventually carry scientific instruments into the upper atmosphere. The instruments will be used to gather measurements and then be brought back to earth where researchers can analyse the data.
The Phoenix-1A rocket is a prototype that will be used to test basic systems, however it will not be used for sounding purposes.
After the launch of the prototype at a range in the Western Cape later this year, researchers intend to develop more powerful variants that will conduct upper atmospheric physics research.
The Phoenix is regarded as a “hybrid rocket”, meaning it uses a solid fuel made of wax and a liquid oxidiser consisting of nitrous oxide. The rocket will not go into space as it is sub-orbital with researchers expecting it to reach an altitude of about 5km. The motor of the rocket burns for 20 seconds and produces a maximum thrust of three kilonewtons.
The unveiling of the rocket was attended by Dean and Head of School, Professor Cristina Trois, and Mechanical Engineering Academic leader, Professor Glen Bright, who were both presented with Phoenix rocket shirts.
Trois and Bright addressed the gathering expressing their excitement about the rocket project and wished the team well in their future endeavours.