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NCKU Hybrid Rocket Successfully Launched at Mudan Township Beach of Pingtung County

Tainan, Taiwan, October 19th, 2010

A 300kgf N2O Hybrid Rocket, designed by the research team led by Director and Distinguished Prof. Yei-Chin Chao of Aerospace Science and Technology Research Center and Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) has successfully launched at the beach of Mudan Township of Pingtung County, Taitung, Taiwan.

NCKU President Michael Ming-Chiao Lai expressed, “The successful launch of the hybrid rocket, entirely designed and manufactured by NCKU, is a significant moment of the NCKU history, demonstrating that the technological capacity of National Cheng Kung University has come to full play. The manufacturing of a rocket requires system integration capability, which relies on team spirit and the joint effort of cross-disciplinary scientists. This is a unique characteristic of NCKU. In addition, the low cost of rocket manufacturing, which is merely NT$300,000, is an important breakthrough in the technology field in Taiwan.”

After a decade of research and development and two years of system design and integration, the NCKU 300kgf Hybrid Rocket has successfully launched and reached the altitude of 8km and the research team has completed performance testing and acquired remote sensing information and data, marking a new episode of national sounding rocket development.

The concept of hybrid rocket originated in around 1930, and the first successful launch of the hybrid rocket took place in 1994, followed by subsequent research and development and launches of hybrid rockets of many universities, including Stanford University, U.S., Hokkaido University, Japan, and College of Aerospace Engineering at Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, mainland China.

National Cheng Kung University is the first to devote itself to the research and development of hybrid rocket system in Taiwan. The 30kgf N2O hybrid rocket of NCKU has successfully launched in May, 2009, in Shalun Farm Tainan County, and reached an altitude of 2km. It is the first successfully launched hybrid rocket in Taiwan. Due to the restrictions of national aviation safety, the flight altitude was limited to 2km. However, the technology and effectiveness of the NCKU hybrid rocket has already exceeded that limitation.

As the system design is verified by the successful flight test of the 30kgf N2O hybrid rocket, the 300kgf N2O hybrid rocket has been constructed and it has successfully launched at the beach of Mudan Township of Pingtung County, Taitung, Taiwan, in mid-October, with an altitude of 8km. The flight test results will be referred to design the full scale, 100km altitude, hybrid rocket system in the future.

The thrust of the recently launched hybrid rocket is 300kgf, and the hybrid rocket is 3.6m in length, 16cm in external diameter and 68kg in take-off weight. The elevation angle of the launch is approximately 85 degree and it reaches the altitude of 8km and its flight duration from take-off to disappearing of the remote sensing signal is about 90 seconds.

The hybrid rocket possesses high safety and controllability characteristics, exhibiting advantages over both liquid rockets and solid rockets especially in terms of simplicity, safety and cost. The fuel and the oxidizer are stored separately, so the thrust can be controlled by the flow rate of the oxidizer. The rocket can even shutdown and restart during operation.

Because the main components of the rocket are independently manufactured and the source of propellant is easy to acquire without the restriction of export license, the product cost is merely NT$300,000. In comparison to the military rockets or space rockets which cost millions of dollars each, the product cost is lower and the level of safety is higher, corresponding to the current trend of environmental protection.

After years of research of hybrid propellant system, NCKU Aerospace Science and Technology Center has fully grasped the key point of the best combination of fuel and oxidizer for the highest efficiency, choosing 50% paraffin, 50% HTPB (50p) fuel grain and N2O oxidizer fuel to acquire a stable 300kg thrust.

Prof. Yei-Chin Chao stated, “The physical and chemical aspects of the lower thermosphere between 100km and 300km of altitude have long been ignored. A safe, reliable and low-cost sounding rocket technology for launching nano-satellites is necessary. Thus, hybrid rocket technique is an important potential rocket technology for the lower thermosphere space science program.”

Prof. Yei-Chin Chao believed within 3 to 5 years, sounding rocket used to explore the lower thermosphere of 100km and above can become a local product entirely made by NCKU.

From the design and construction of the rocket engine testing platform, the research and manufacturing of the rocket fuel grain, the design and testing of the engine, the development of the rocket key components and system, and the analysis of the rocket ground testing information to the development of launcher system, flight control and remote sensing system and the verification of rocket flight testing in different phases, the related technical capacities and project management procedures, full aspects of the hybrid rocket system have been well established, symbolizing the progress of space science and technology in Taiwan.

The indigenous capability for the sounding rocket and propulsion systems is one of the most demanding capabilities to be established as it is usually strongly related to national space programs and defense strategy and very difficult to acquire through formal technology transfer.

In cooperation with the serial NSPO sounding rocket programs, the Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics at National Cheng Kung University has proposed a series of indigenous sounding rocket research projects to investigate and develop the hybrid rocket systems for use as the launch and propulsion vehicle for the 11th and follow-on national sounding rocket programs.

In the first phase of this serial multiple-year projects, based upon the past experience of performing the propulsion payload experiments and system integration of the 6th and 8th national sounding rocket programs, in 14 months, from December, 2008, to January, 2010, the institute has proposed a series of development and flight tests of the indigenous hybrid rocket system using nitrous oxide and HTPB as the main propellants to be used as the candidate for the future sounding rocket launch vehicle.

The current goal of this first phase project is to achieve the thrust level of 100kg with 10kg of payload to reach 20km of altitude. The project structure consists of key technologies and subsystems of propulsion subsystems, gas dynamics and structure heat transfer subsystem, control and remote sensing subsystem, system integration, launch site subsystem, etc. A full scale hybrid rockets will be developed and flight-tested to verify the feasibility of current design of the hybrid rocket system to be used for the future national sounding rocket program.

The test data and the experience gained from the first phase hybrid rocket experiments will serve as the building block of the indigenous sounding rocket systems for the future NSPO 11th national sounding rocket system and future satellite programs.

The NCKU research team mainly consists of Director and Distinguished Prof. Yei-Chin Chao of Aerospace Science and Technology Research Center, Dr. Tsung-Sheng Lee, Dr. Hung-Wei Hsu, Prof. Chieh-Li Chen, Prof. Dar-Yun Chiang, Prof. Ching-Shun Ho and Prof. Chih-Yung Wen of Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Additional Information:

A hybrid rocket is a rocket with a rocket engine which uses propellants in two different states of matter, one solid and the other either gas or liquid. The Hybrid rocket concept can be traced back at least 75 years.

In its simplest form a hybrid rocket consists of a pressure vessel containing the liquid propellant, the combustion chamber containing the solid propellant, and a valve isolating the two. When thrust is desired, a suitable ignition source is introduced in the combustion chamber and the valve is opened. The liquid propellant or gas flows into the combustion chamber where it is vaporized and then reacted with the solid propellant. Combustion occurs in a boundary layer diffusion flame adjacent to the surface of the solid propellant.

Generally the liquid propellant is the oxidizer and the solid propellant is the fuel because solid oxidizers are problematic and with lower performance than liquid oxidizers. Furthermore, using a solid fuel such as HTPB or paraffin allows for the incorporation of high-energy fuel additives such as aluminum, lithium, or metal hydrides.

Common oxidizers include gaseous or liquid oxygen or nitrous oxide. Common fuels include polymers such as polyethylene, cross-linked rubber such as HTPB or liquefying fuels such as paraffin.
Provider: 新聞中心
Date: 99-10-19
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