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Cambridge University’s amateur rocket flies OK and then gets lost

9 May 2012, 09:56 UTC
Cambridge University’s amateur rocket flies OK and then gets lost
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In early May, teams of rocket enthusiasts were at the Big Range 2012 Launch Campaign in Sutherland, Scotland to hold suborbital high altitude experimental rocketry tests. The event is a collaboration between the Scottish Aeronautics & Rocketry Association (SARA), UK Rocket Association (UKRA) and AspireSpace.

Of the teams, one from Cambridge University made an attempt at taking the current UK altitude record for an amateur rocket. The record currently stands at 24,500 feet and the Cambridge hoped to better that by 10,000 feet using a two stage solid fuel rocket using 15kg of ammonium perchlorate – the same fuel that were used by the Solid Rocket Boosters (SRBs) on the Space Shuttle launch system. The Cambridge team’s rocket’s light weight structure was made from carbon fibre and red anodised aluminium. The total mass of the rocket was 40kg.

After a one day delay due to ignition failure, the launch and stage separation went well on 3 May. However, sadly, the team could not tell whether the altitude record had been breached as they could not find the second stage with the altimeter recording system aboard. The science writer, Dr. Lucy Rogers, who was observing ...

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