A Glance at the Different Types of Rocket Launchers
This coming August, the teams at the rocket launch UK will be flying our very first national space mission as part of the European Space Agency. The vehicle will be carrying a model of the Dragonfly Aerospace's future model, which could well become the most aerodynamic rigid module ever used in space. It will be launching from the Plesk Chord, one of the most unique and difficult to get to places. It is only used for taking out space experiments and testing of the various systems. It can take up to three hours to get to the launch position.
The rocket itself has been in operation since 1993, but this will be the first flight of a new design using a modular assembly. The vehicle will fly on its strap-on system, which is actually more like a tent and allows for a higher level of stability. The modular construction also allows the flexibility of adding different sections as needed during flight. Many of the components will be liquid fuel, making the vehicle highly stable during flight. During the flight the entire assembly will detach and the landing will be made easier.
This launch will mark the return of one of the most successful British designers of rocket launches, Jim Mitchell. He is the founder and director of DragonSpace, which is responsible for the design and development of the Dragonfly Aerospace's safety systems. His design of the two-stage solid rocket booster system will enable it to be used for both sounding and tracking experiments as well as getting into orbit.
There are many technical tests that have to be successfully conducted before the rocket is allowed to launch. One of the biggest challenges is to make sure that the vehicle is robust enough to withstand the intense vibrations that are associated with re-entry. The blue lights used to guide the craft back to earth will go out during the first stage of flight, giving engineers and scientists one more parameter they need to test.
During the second stage of the booster will separate from the vehicle. Then a landing burn will take place, using the same boosters that were used during the first flight. DragonSpace will attempt to land the booster on a runway using its tail fins. Although the landing might not work out as planned, the potential is there to use the booster in many other capacities. It would be interesting to see this booster used to take off from an aircraft carrier and return to earth as a land-based vehicle.
The United Kingdom has a long standing history with space launches. They have used expendable ballistic missiles for some time now. These missiles were originally developed for the purpose of testing the missile engine's ability to be used at sea as well as in the atmosphere. Rocket tests were carried out to determine if the engines could be used successfully for re-entry and that they would also survive the fiery temperatures of re-entry.
The United Kingdom already has one of the most successful UK based rocket programs. The British launched the first piece of reusable rocket in December 1984. This rocket was christened with the name of "HSV - Hyper Star V". The Hyper Star IV was supposed to be the first piece of reusable rocket to go to space.
A lot of thought and hard work has gone into developing the blue rocket booster. It will be exciting to watch this booster fly around the Earth and back. If this project gets off the ground we could see a new era in rocket development. Hopefully this is the next step.
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