EXPLORE is taking shape! During the last few weeks we have worked hard and started the manufacturing of the first components of flight hardware, including the structure, recovery system and tanks. Prototypes of the fluid system and the main valve are also in construction. While the engine is still in its test phase, we have managed to reduce combustion instabilities and improved the design of the engine multiple times. However, tests will continue in order to improve stability, efficiency and burn time.
We’re now one month into the new year! Roughly one year ago we decided to go for EXPLORE, a demonstrator propelled with liquid oxygen (LOx) and solid paraffin-based fuel. Here is an overview over the current status:
The development of the avionics hard- and software is running in high gear. For the first time in HyEnD history, a self-made flight computer shall take control of the most critical functions during flight. First prototypes of many electrical subsystems are already built and about to be tested thoroughly. As for the structure, we have manufactured the tip and have a prototype of a CFK-tank for the LOx. After its ascent, the rocket shall be recovered via a recovery system containing a main parachute and a smaller one for pulling out the first one. It’s now in its final design stage. While some components are already ordered others are being prepared to be manufactured soon. Also, a wind tunnel test campaign is currently being planned, which will finish the development process of the new recovery system of EXPLORE. Very challenging is the design of the fluid system because the oxygen will have gaseous and liquid phases when being transferred to the tanks before the launch and then to the combustion chamber during flight. Safety measures like a mechanic and electronic release valve as well as a burst plate need to be included. Those components are still in a design and re-design process. Gaseous nitrogen under high pressure will deliver the LOx to the combustion chamber. Because of the high pressure, there needs to be a pressure regulator. We already tested a sophisticated design at 50 bar but currently re-designing it to make it lighter and qualify it for 300 bar. At the moment we are looking for suitable sensors for checking the pressure and temperature. Also time-consuming is the development of the engine. A whole thesis concentrated on its first design steps and main parts like the showerhead-injector and pre-combustion chamber are already manufactured. Current stage is the preparation of the test bench. We hope that tests in March will give us promising results on its performance. We also hope that you had a great start in 2019!
HyEnD is proud to announce that the development of its first ever liquid oxygen hybrid rocket EXPLORE (Experimental Paraffin Liquid Oxygen Rocket) is in full gear. EXPLORE is intended to be a stepping stone for a bigger project, using a variety of new subsystems to prove their sustainability.
The rocket will be able to reach a maximum altitude of 4500m while continuously transmitting telemetry data. Data will be recorded using a TeleMega and an Arduino. We will manufacture the structure out of carbon fibre composites, in order to not surpass the targeted launch weight of 19kg. EXPLORE’s dual parachute recovery system will be radially ejected, as this has been proven feasable with the successful recovery of our CanSat Launcher. Besides our usual paraffin mixture, we will utilize liquid oxygen as oxidizer. As liquid oxygen doesn’t possess the same self-pressurisation capabilities as nitrous oxide, which has been used as oxidizer in the past, an external pressurisation system for it’s tank is being developed. Passive stabilisation is achieved using four fins attached to the rear end of the rocket.
The preliminary definition phase of the project has been completed and detailed designs for the different subsystems are currently being developed.
More updates will follow soon!
Great News! Our CanSat Launcher has been launched successfully. CanSat and parachutes were deployed flawlessly and the rocket landed softly in the fields near Lampoldshausen. It is completly intact and can be launched again using a new motor. Below you can see a video of the launch, recorded with several ground cameras and a drone.
Recently, great progress has been made in the development and production of the electronics subsystem. By now there’s a complete hardware package made of an Arduino, a TeleMega and the primary batteries which are mounted on a platform in the nose cone. The software and hardware will be tested soon. The testing of the electronics involves drone flights and a vacuum chamber to make sure the software will trigger the deployment of the CanSat and the parachutes after reaching the apogee.
Lately the fins were attached to the lower end of the rocket. To lower production and development time two identical compartments were produced. One will be used for the CanSat, while the other will contain the main parachute.
Shortly after reaching the apogee, the software will trigger a cable cutter to cut the string used to keep the door of the CanSat compartment closed to the rocket. By releasing the compartment door the CanSat will be ejected immediately via a block of foam material. An ejection mechanism based on foam sounds like a simple solution, but has two main advantages: During the ascent the CanSat is kept in its position in the compartment and the ejection doesn’t need an extra trigger by the software.
HyEnD is teaming up with student group KSat Stuttgart e.V. for a cooperative project. „CanSat launcher“ is a small platform developed to carry K-Sat’s CanSat satellite to an altitude of up to 500m. Equipped with a drogue and a main parachute, the solid motor based rocket can be recovered and reused. It is made out of CFRP, with a GRP nose and aluminum for structural elements. We will use a TeleMega to deploy the CanSat and the parachutes with pyro charges and an Arduino for flight data acquisition. As of now, we are finalizing the design and will soon start the production of the rocket parts and testing of all subsystems. While this project does not have the scope of HEROS, it is used as introduction and practice for our many new member.
Three months after its record flight, HEROS 3 made its long trip back from Northern Sweden’s tundra to the exhibition at the German Aerospace Center (DLR) Lampoldshausen site! It is easy to see that HEROS 3 is one of the tallest exhibit in the museum. Here HEROS has found its place next to famous rocket engines and rocket parts like Vulcain 2, Viking, Ariane 5 Upper Stage etc… It’s really a nice place to visit, now even more. Next to HEROS 3 there are some posters and the demonstrator rocket MIRAS.
After carefully evaluating the onboard data from last week’s HEROS 3 flight, we can now happily confirm the maximum flight altitude of 32300m (~106000 ft). This sets a new record for European student and amateur rocketry which was held until now by Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering and their rocket Stratos II. 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 drogue parachute deployed at Apogee as intended and the rocket safely descended to the ground, where the main parachute opened and the rocket landed softly without any damage in 20 km distance to the launch pad.
The launch angle of HEROS 3 was at 80°, which is quite low, since experimental rockets are subject to higher safety requirements at the European Space and Sounding Rocket Range (ESRANGE). Additionally the rocket was only filled to about 70% of the tank volume with oxidizer. The reason for this is that we wanted to make sure with the flight of HEROS 2, that the rocket structure can sustain the high thermal and mechanical loads of supersonic flight. Unfortunately HEROS 2 was not sending any flight data and could not be recovered. Therefore, we decided that also HEROS 3 should not be filled to its maximum level to make the flight as safe as possible. According to analyzed flight data form HEROS 3, a higher launch angle and a fully filled tank would enable a maximum flight altitude of up to 50 km. Currently the team is busy with processing all the data and video recordings. We proudly present a first, short glimpse on our onboard camera footage in the above video. More video material is currently processed and also flight data graphs will be released in the coming days.
On Tuesday 8th November 2016, 10:30 LT, -18°C: our HEROS 3 rocket was launched from ESRANGE, Kiruna. At almost perfect weather conditions and great visibility it reached an apogee of over 30 km according to telemetry data and was successfully recovered with the drogue and main parachute being released. Further flight analysis is ongoing and awesome on-board video data will be released soon. Below is an on-board picture made at apogee of the flight and a group photo with the rocket after the flight!
After one tough week with a lot of work, our HEROS 2 hybrid sounding rocket was launched from the MRL launcher at ESRANGE Space Center in Northern Sweden on 31st October 2016 at 12:00 UTC. The countdown went very smoothly: The tank filling with nitrous oxide was quickly done, the heating system both at the GSE and at the launch rail with the air-heated styrofoam box brought the nitrous oxide to the right temperature for launch, despite the cold and freezing outside temperature. The ground and on-board electronics worked flawlessly during the countdown. A lot of great video material of the lift-off and the ascent into the clouds was produced and will be presented in the near future.