London rocket team ready to make bid for
new record... next stop space
Sept. 10, 2002
Two years ago the London based MARS Advanced
Rocketry Group, one of the UK's longest running amateur rocketry organisations,
set a new UK and European amateur rocket altitude record when a team of
rocketeers flew out to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada, USA, and successfully
launched the Phobos EAV amateur rocket to almost 35,0000ft above
the Earth's surface.
That last record-breaking rocket used a rocket
engine designed and developed in the USA. The team are now ready to break
the record again... with an entirely British built rocket twice the size
of the last.
The MARS team have spent the last two years
developing a new kind of rocket engine called a hybrid motor. A
hybrid motor uses half liquid propellant and half solid propellant. The
motor that the MARS team have been developing uses liquid Nitrous Oxide
(laughing gas) as its source of oxygen and solid polyethylene (carrier
bag material) as its fuel.
This hybrid system has massive safety
advantages over solid fuel rocket motors normally used by amateurs because
the fuel is so inert. The system is also extremely environmentally friendly
in comparison with other forms of rocket fuel... the main exhaust products
from the motor are nitrogen and water. The system is also incredibly cheap...
where other amateur groups boast about how expensive their rockets are...
MARS are proud to be achieving these feats on a shoe-string budget. The
propellant for one launch of the new rocket costs just £300, one
tenth of the cost of a solid fuel rocket motor of similar performance.
The hybrid motor has been tested on the ground
and, when the team's plans to fly out to the USA last September to test
fly the motor in the desert were dashed by the September 11th
tragedy, it was instead test flown to over a mile in altitude in a remote
part of Scotland last November. Both tests were successful.
The new MARS rocket is called Deimos
Odyssey, inspired by the film 2001 (the year the rocket
was originally meant to fly). The rocket is built from aluminium and carbon
fibre and stands over 24ft tall.
The rocket's hybrid motor is designed to
give around a quarter of a ton of thrust for over 25 seconds and should
lift the rocket to well in excess of the team's last record of 35,000ft.
The rocket will carry on board a series of
still and video cameras and, thanks to the advanced equipment supplied
by the team's sponsors, the team hope to receive live high resolution
video transmitted back from the rocket as it travels up through the upper
layers of the atmosphere and then send these images back to the teams
UK headquarters by satellite link.
The MARS team have been working towards the
goal of launching an amateur rocket into space for the last five years
by building and testing ever larger and more complex test rockets. This
launch, if successful, should be the last flight test needed before the
team make a bid to become the first amateurs to ever launch a rocket into
space. A space bid would require a scaled up version of this rocket, over
four times as powerful
Fierce competition over recent years has seen
attempts by teams from around the world to become the first into space,
but so far no one has succeeded. The MARS team believe their camaraderie,
team spirit and determination could be the factors that make them the
first team to succeed.
The MARS team are currently making preparations
for the launch in London and will be departing on Monday 16th
September. The launch is due to occur on Friday the 20th or
Saturday the 21st of September. Due to the remoteness of the
desert launch site the team will be in intermittent contact once in the
Updates will be made to with a news-feed from
the desert to the MARS teams website at:
For more information on this exciting project
or if you require images to accompany an article please contact:
en Jarvis on: 0771 313 8931 or
by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Odyssey is proudly sponsored by:
(video/imaging equipment), Schlumberger (satellite communications
equipment), Jupiter Display (advertising/graphics), Mission
Communications (funding), Terralogic (funding/ruggedised computer
equipment), Airborne Engineering Ltd (engineering/high pressure
systems), Andron Handling Solutions (engineering), Specialist