World’s Largest Sugar Propellant Grains and 3rd Flight of the Phoenix Rocket

Video Caption: Casting the second 12″ x 20″ (300mm x 500mm) sugar propellant grain at the FAR site. Each grain will have a 3″ (75mm) core and approximately 130 pounds (55 kg) of propellant with an expected motor burn time of 16.7 seconds. The Phoenix launch was a small 100mm 2-grain sugar motor with 1″ (25mm) cores used for inexpensively flight testing propellant, electronics and other components. Each Phoenix flight cost three dollars…what a bargain!

BURPG Lotus Engine Updates

Some interesting updates on the Boston University Rocket Propulsion Groups new Lotus rocket engine.

Lotus Dev 2 (Credit: BURPG)
Lotus Dev 2 (Credit: BURPG)

The engine has increased in thrust from 1,500lbf to 2,500lbf which has enabled the use of a single chamber assembly instead of the dual clustered setup originally designed. The team has also turned to Triton Space Technologies for their main valves, which will be pyro actuated poppet valves. (Triton make a range of valves and products so is worth a look for your next rocket project)

The team is still continuing development of a steel heat sink engine for ignition testing and general engine setup.

Iron Lotus (Credit: BURPG)
Iron Lotus (Credit: BURPG)

Work continues on Starscraper behind the scenes with subsystems having undergone design reviews.Looking forward to seeing this engine fire!

After a bit of bad luck in the past, it looks like the team is on track for some exciting engine fires and space shot launches very soon!

You can read the full progress update here.


Instagram Pic of the Week

Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne have begun a series of developmental hot-fire tests with two launch abort engines similar to the ones that will be part of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner service module, in the Mojave Desert in California. The engines, designed to maximize thrust build-up, while minimizing overshoot during start up, will be fired between half a second and 3 seconds each during the test campaign. If the Starliner's four launch abort engines were used during an abort scenario, they would fire between 3 and 5.5. seconds, with enough thrust to get the spacecraft and its crew away from the rocket, before splashing down in the ocean under parachutes. Photo credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne #boeing #aerojet #starliner #nasa #rocket #fire #journeytomars #sls

A photo posted by NASA Exploration Systems (@explorenasa) on

Interstellar Technologies 12kN Engine Test

Video Caption: Ethanol/LOX pressure-fed rocket engine
12kN of thrust
Ignition test with GO2/paraffin igniter. GO2 was fed from main LOX reservoir.

Interstellar Technologies Inc.
Taiki-cho, Hokkaido, Japan

HEROS 3 Rocket Prep and Flight Video

Video Caption: On Tuesday 8th November 2016, 10:30 LT, -18°C: our Hybrid sounding rocket HEROS 3 rocket was launched from ESRANGE, Kiruna. At almost perfect weather conditions and great visibility it reached an apogee of 32.3 km according to GPS and acceleration data and was successfully recovered with the drogue and main parachute being released. This sets a new record for European student and amateur rocketry. Furthermore, to our knowledge this is also a new altitude world rocket for hybrid rockets built by students. The maximum speed of HEROS 3 was 2600 km/h with a Mach number of 2.3.
The hybrid rocket engine delivers 10 kN of thrust with a paraffin-based fuel and Nitrous Oxide as the oxidizer.

CS 35sec BPM5 Burn

Video Caption: On October 10th 2016 we put our BPM5 engine through the longest burn to date. In 35 seconds it provided a total impulse of 180.000 Ns.
On the data overlay pressures are given in bar, temperatures in degrees centigrade and thrust in newton.

Team Ursa

I was recently made aware of Team Ursa, who are building some very cool rockets and hardware and have been doing so for a few years now.

Ursa 2.1 launch operations (Credit: Team Ursa)
Ursa 2.1 launch operations (Credit: Team Ursa)

Team Ursa’s mission as stated on their website,

Team Ursa and its partner, Mavericks Civilian Space Foundation, find space exploration to be a potent motivator for students and adults alike. By using the sub-orbital aerospace platform, Team Ursa works with Mavericks to inspire students and communities to invest in STEM through the development of open-source reference designs. These reference designs are intended for the educational and research community’s use to further younger generations’ involvement in STEM, and aid in making sub-orbital space a more accessible laboratory for students.

The team started out as 6 University of Maine senior capstone students who got together to build their first rocket, Ursa 1.0. Ursa 1.0 was a 2 stage solid propelled rocket designed to achieve 100,000ft in altitude, as shown below.

Ursa 1.0 (Credit: Team Ursa)

Continue reading “Team Ursa”