HYBRID ROCKET MOTORS
HYBRID ROCKET HISTORY IN THE U.K.
The first commercially available hybrid flown in the U.K. was flown at the Scottish Rocket Weekend in Largs in August 1996, by Scott Bartel - Owner of Black Sky Research, and one of the Tripoli Directors. The hybrid motor was a Hypertek 54mm diameter J-class hybrid motor, using nitrous oxide as the oxidiser, and the rocket was a Black Sky Research Optimal 65 rocket, using a Black Sky Research ALTACC recording Altimeter/Accelerometer for recovery system deployment. The rocket was launched twice, by Bobby Wark of STAAR Research.
Scott Bartel returned to the U.K. the following year, to launch another Hypertek J-class hybrid at the UKRA '97 launch event near Edingale in Staffordshire, in June 1997. The launch vehicle specs and the motor specs were the same as the previous year.
Subsequent to that, and up to the summer of 2001, the only other personal hybrids flown were demonstration flights of R.A.T.T.Works hybrid rocket motors using nitrous oxide as the oxidiser by Pete Davy and myself, with Pete using a Blacksky Research ALTACC for recovery system deployment, and me using a combination of an ALTACC, G-Wiz LC Deluxe and an R-DAS flight computer for recovery system deployment.
As of the summer of 2005, the number of people in the UK who now have High Power Rocketry commercial hybrid rocket motors is into the 20s, and rocketry groups like MARS, WRS, NSRG and EARS, as well as Pete Davy from Pete's Rockets, all have a full set of Hypertek Ground Support Equipment, with a number of MARS and EARS members also having Pratt Hobbies R.A.T.T.Works hybrid Ground Support Equipment too. Hybrid rockets, using nitrous oxide as the oxidiser, have again started to be launched in the U.K. again, and hopefully a lot more hybrids will be seen taking to the skies!
UK non-professional hybrid records
The first amateur hybrid to be launched in the U.K. was a hybrid powered by Nitrous Oxide / Polythene, and constructed and launched by MARS in Lincolnshire in September 1998. The rocket used a Cambridge Instruments IAX-96 Recording Altimeter/Accelerometer for recovery system deployment and data logging, and NOx flow was controlled by an onboard solenoid valve.
The first amateur hybrid rocket motor known to have been static tested in the U.K. was by the Orbital Rocketry Society in 1993.
The largest UK built amateur hybrid known to have been launched in the UK is the O-1800 configuration of the MARS B4 hybrid rocket motor, powered by nitrous oxide as the oxidiser and polyethylene as the fuel, and used to launch the MARS Deimos-2 rocket from Scotland in November 2001. A version of this motor with a larger fuel load and a more powerful configuration was used to launch the Deimos-Odyssey rocket to 25,400 feet in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada, U.S.A. in September 2002. This version equated to a P-2500.
The largest amateur hybrid rocket motor to be static tested in the U.K. was a hybrid motor designed for the Project FARISpace Space Shot, by Richard Brown, and using Hydrogen Peroxide as the oxidiser and Polyethylene as the fuel. Richard Brown had previously used similar motors to set the World Land Speed Record for a 2 wheeled vehicle when he rode the rocket propelled motorbike in the U.S.
The first amateur or professional composite cased hybrid rocket motor known to have been launched in the U.K. was a hybrid rocket motor flown in the fibreglass PTV-1 rocket, built by Ben Jarvis of MARS. The rocket was launched in the UKRA organised K-Lob rocket launch event in Lincolnshire in September 2001, to an altitude in excess of 6000 feet, and had both a fibreglass combustion chamber and a fibreglass oxidiser tank, utilising nitrous oxide as the oxidiser, and polyethylene as the fuel.
The first amateur cryogenic hybrid rocket motor built to be static tested in the U.K. was a cryogenic hybrid motor called the H1, designed for the AspireSpace group, by James Murray, and built by AspireSpace members at the University of Kent in 1994/1995. The H1 hybrid motor used Liquid Oxygen as the oxidiser and Polyethylene as the fuel.
The largest amateur cryogenic hybrid rocket motor to be static tested in the U.K. was a cryogenic hybrid motor called the H20, designed for the AspireSpace group, again by James Murray, and using Liquid Oxygen / Polyethylene as the propellant.
The first amateur GOx ignition of a U/C valve style hybrid rocket motor was developed and built by Helen Green of the East Anglia Rocketry Society (EARS), and tested successfully on her 29mm diameter, RATTWorks I-80H hybrid rocket motor, powered by nitrous oxide as the oxidiser, and polyethylene as the fuel.
Hybrid Launches in the U.K.
The list below was originally started when someone started creating trouble for hybrids in the UK. Because they tended not to cope very well when presented with facts, it made sense to gather as much factual evidence to demonstrate the number of flights, and the success rate of hybrid rocket motors, in order to safeguard hybrid rocket motors in the UK.
Because of everything work, life and the universe related, taking over for the last few years, the list below was only really accurate up to the end of 2002. Since then, I've not been to launches where hybrids have been launched, so I've fallen behind in updating the list. It was still fairly accurate up to late 2005 though, and records most hybrid launches on commercial motors in the UK, where I have been able to update them through until the summer of 2005. (I'm still missing the flights of one of the UK's most prolific hybrid fliers, Damian Hall though, so when I get those, I will update the list accordingly).
From mid 2005 to the end of 2005 though, the number of flights of hybrid rockets increased tremendously as they became far more popular (due in no small part to the hard work marketing hybrids and putting on hybrid masterclasses by Damian Hall of Uncle Bob's Rocket Shop in order to build his brand awareness for his business), so without people submitting flights for me to log, the list has fallen considerably behind.
|Number of High Power
|23||Richard Osborne (MARS)||Compact R-DAS, Classic R-DAS, ALTACC, G-Wiz LC Deluxe & Perfectflite MiniAlt|
|8||Helen Green (EARS)||ALTACC|
|5||Colin Rowe (WRS)||Perfectflite MiniAlt W/D|
|4||Richard Parkin (WRS)||Perfectflite MiniAlt W/D|
|4||Chris Brown (WRS)||Perfectflite MiniAlt W/D|
|4||George Rogozinski (NSRG)|
|4||Steve Gibbings (EARS)||Compact R-DAS|
|4||Steve Woolhead (MARS)||Compact R-DAS|
|3||Graham Platt (LARF)||Perfectflite MiniAlt W/D|
|2||Niall Oswald (EARS)||Perfectflite MiniAlt W/D|
|2||Martin Sweeney (WRS)||Perfectflite MiniAlt W/D|
|2||Sally Davis (MARS)||ALTACC and Magnetic Apogee Sensor|
|1||Chris Eilbeck (MARS)||Compact R-DAS|
|1||James Macfarlane (MARS)||Compact R-DAS|
|1||Robin and Jeremy Tomes||Compact R-DAS & Classic R-DAS|
|1||Paul Shackleton (EARS)||Missileworks RRC|
|1||Bob Arnott (EARS)||Compact R-DAS|
|1||Chris Key||Classic R-DAS with GPS and Telemetry Modules|
|1||Mike Williams / Ian Holtham (Thrust)||ALTACC|
|1||Kevin Timmins (WRS)||Perfectflite MiniAlt W/D|
- Total number of recorded successful high power hybrid flights in UK rocketry: 89
- Total number of recorded individuals flying high power hybrids in the UK: 22
- Number of recorded high power hybrid motor CATOs: 5
|CATO||Failure Type||Motor Total Impulse Class||Failure Mode|
|1||Launch Pad||J-class||Cracked fuel grain|
|2||In-flight||L-class||Motor Design Flaw|
|3||Launch Pad||J-class||Improperly placed injector orifice caused NOx to leak into combustion chamber|
|4||Launch Pad||J-class||Cracked fuel grain|
|5||Launch Pad||H-class||Wrong grease used as motor lubricant (Vaseline used erroneously instead of Krytox)|
- UK high power hybrid rocketry motor recorded success rate: 94%
|Number of recorded Model
|5||Roy Trzeciak-Hicks (EARS)||Perfectflite 25K Altimeter|
|2||Mel Sharpe (Black Knights)|
|1||James Macfarlane (MARS)||G-Wiz LC Deluxe Altimeter / Accelerometer|
|2||Mike Procter (MARS)|
Total number of recorded model hybrid flights: 10
Professionally, by far the most successful static testing hybrid propulsion development in the U.K. has been undertaken by Surrey Satellite Technology Limited (SSTL), with their Hydrogen Peroxide / Polyethylene hybrid rocket motors. The development work, which has been underway since the early 1990's has included static test firings of conventional and novel hybrid geometries at the former Royal Ordnance Liquid Motors Site at Westcott.
In terms of flights of professional rocket projects powered by commercial hybrid rocket motors, undoubtedly the largest by sheer size, were the Top Gear Space Shuttle by The Rocketmen Ltd in 2006, and the Discovery Channel Rocket in 2007 - again by The Rocketmen Limited. Both these projects used multiple clusters of Contrail O-class hybrid rocket motors for primary propulsion.
After the excellent developments of SSTL's hybrid rocket motors, the flights of The Rocketmen Ltd's large hybrid powered rockets, and by then the steady hybrid progress in the amateur community, Royal Ordnance Rocket Motors also decided to develop a hybrid rocket motor, however, the hybrid they tested was unsuccessful.
For more hybrid information on this website, the following web pages may be of interest:
- Hybrid Science
- Hybrid Rocket Help Clinic
- Hybrid Rocket Motor Costs
- Hybrid Rocket Motors in the UK
- Hybrid Rocket Links
In the UK, hybrid rocket motors and hybrid rocket motor ground support equipment can be bought from Uncle Bob's Rocket Shop, which is the largest hybrid rocket supplier in Europe. The motors can be also be bought in mainland Europe at Rebel Rocketry, Europe's largest rocket shop / online store.
Hybrid Rocket Science, Hybrid Rocket Help Clinic, Amateur Hybrid Motors, Amateur Liquid Rockets, Guidance, Gimballed Motors, Launch Controller, UK Rocketry Vendors, UK Rocket Groups, UK Space Organisations