Thank you for visiting Mach 5 low-down! I’m Iain, I’m an avid space nut and rocket builder, I’ve travelled the world checking out other peoples rocket projects and experiencing all thing space.
It is from this experience and this blog that I want to keep you informed with all the news of amateur experiential rocket projects happening all around the world and the exciting stuff which they are achieving. Although strictly amateur there are so many great projects happening at the professional level, especially in New Zealand now with Rocketlab due to launch their Electron rocket later this year.
To give you an idea of what is going on, 2015 is set to be an exciting year with at least one (possibly two) university groups vying to be the first to send a rocket into space (sub-orbital flight).
University of Southern California Rocket Propulsion Lab (USCRPL) and Boston University Rocket Propulsion group (BURPG). USCRPL are coming off two failed space shots in 2013 and 2014 where their solid fuelled rocket Traveler 1 and 2 both experienced in flight anomalies after lift-off. With a new design of their solid fuelled motor, another shot is no doubt on the cards. (At the time of writing I could not find out if they were going to try again this year or not).
BURPG are also aiming for the black sky this year with their Starscraper rocket, a nitrous oxide hybrid (similar to Virgin Galactic’s Space Ship two), capable of lofting a 45kg payload to 140km in altitude. Over the last few years the students at BURPG have been able to successfully demonstrate the key technologies needed for Starscrapper and it is in July of this year they plan for their space shot.
Another notable mention is the group of students at Portland State Aerospace Society (PSAS) for short. Running out of Portland State University the group have been building and launching rockets over the last few years, building the experience and technology needed to accomplish their own space shot in the future. A key point of difference is that everything PSAS do is open source and the information is available for you and me to help with our own projects! Using GitHub and having a very active twitter feed, this group is well worth the follow!
Heading down the coast we find the students of San Diego State University (SDSU) getting into their final stages of their liquid fuelled rocket Galactic Aztec. Powered by a LR-101 vernier rocket engine from the Atlas missile, each year this group launch a liquid fuelled rocket.
Heading across the Atlantic to Europe, we find Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering (DARE) operating out of Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands. They are aiming on launching their Stratos II rocket to 50km in altitude, unfortunately a frozen valve on their hybrid rocket motor hampered any attempts at lift off last year.
While in Europe we can not also forget Copenhagen Suborbitals, the all volunteer effort aiming to put a man in space. They have been working on the technology needed to achieve this great goal over the last few years, building everything in house and from donations. A slight change of direction has seen the overall rocket design change and this summer testing of smaller scale rockets called Nexo is due to take place before work begins on their Spica manned suborbital rocket.
Back on home soil, not amateur by any means, NZ’s own RocketLab have been working on their launch vehicle, Electron. Capable of putting a 110kg satellite into a 500km LEO, it is scheduled to fly later this year.
These are only some of the more notable projects happening at the moment and their are many more out there that I will cover in due course. Keep checking back for updates on what is happening and where and look skyward because 2015 is going to be an epic year!.
University of Southern California Rocket Propulsion Lab
Boston University Rocket Propulsion Group
Portland State Aerospace Society
Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering
Rocket Lab Ltd