This summer, the SpaceTeam is starting a new project! In our quest of exploring new technologies, we want to try our hand at a hybrid rocket. We want to build a sounding rocket of a similar magnitude to μHoubolt, with which we can assert ourselves in international competitions, such as the EuRoC or C’Space.
How does our engine work?
Characteristic of hybrid engines is the use of fuel components in two different states of aggregation. We use solid paraffin (fuel grain), a hydrocarbon that is also used as candle wax, and liquid oxygen (LOX) as an oxidizer.
As soon as the main valve is opened and the ignition is started, the fuel grain burns with enormous heat (up to 3 000 K) thanks to the oxidizer. Instead of the more common nitrous oxide (N2O), we are one of the first teams in Europe to use liquid oxygen. The advantage of this is an extraordinary increase in efficiency, but it also brings its own challenges: The boiling point of LOX is 90 K (−183 °C), which complicates storage and requires special servos that still work even at extremely low temperatures. The targeted thrust of the engine is 500-1000 N to carry a 15-20 kg rocket to an altitude of 3 km.
How do we continue?
The entire rocket is manufactured in-house, with our focus at the moment being on the development of our engine. Another important point is our test stand, which we want to completely redesign for our purposes. We started with the first preparations for our project in May of this year, the topics we deal with are diverse, ranging from simulations to production techniques to marketing, and also offer new members interesting opportunities to participate. The first engine tests are scheduled for autumn. We plan to keep you updated with the further development!