Tue, Feb 02, 2016 - Page 3 News List

NCTU launches two-stage rocket

GROUND CONTROL:Students and academics from National Chiao Tung University are self-funding their project to develop technology that can send Taiwan into space

By Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter

A two-stage rocket built by a team from National Chiao Tung University (NCTU) was successfully launched on Sunday, a major step in the development of the nation’s rocket industry.

The 2.5m hybrid rocket was launched from Hsinchu City’s Siangshan Wetlands (香山濕地). The team was able to separate the first-stage propellant when it ran out of fuel and fire the second-stage booster to push the rocket to a height of 1,000m, after which parachutes were deployed to land the rocket, said Wu Jong-shinn (吳宗信), a professor at the university’s Advanced Rocket Research Center.

“It feels so good. We used limited resources to build a propellant system that secured patents in the US, and we successfully completed a launch mission and rocket separation. I am deeply moved to see our team pull this off,” Wu said.

Made with environmentally friendly plastic and glass, the rocket uses a sugar rocket motor for the first-stage propellant, as well as a hybrid propellant system with solid fuel and liquid nitrous oxide for the second-stage booster, Wu said.

The rocket was fitted with a 360-degree camera and a navigation computer system to transmit launch data to ground control, he said.

The launch was to test the rocket’s ignition system and remote communication system. The team has completed more than 20 test launches of small rockets and four test launches of large rockets since 2008.

The launch on Sunday paves the way for the launch of a 9m-high hybrid two-stage rocket later this year which is meant to reach an altitude of 100km to send scientific equipment into space, Wu said.

The center is made up of a group of scientists and students whose dream is to develop fully homegrown launch vehicles to “send Taiwan into space.”

“Although the center has struggled with limited resources, it is one of the leading institutes in the world’s rocketry circle.

The launch was a step forward for Taiwan’s aerospace industry in terms of developing a satellite launch system,” Wu said, adding that the team’s goals include sending personal satellites into space.

The center, which is not publicly funded, has raised NT$9 million (US$267,300), and aims to raise another NT$7 million by the end of this year for research and operations, Wu said, calling on the public to contribute to their space mission.

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