What do you do when inspiration hits? Achyut Rajendran’s answer is to work at it. Read what he has to say about his interest in space sciences.
Rocketeer’s Speak, we hear from Achyut Rajendran, an mechanical engineer from
Cochin, who interned with us the last year. He has always had a strong passion
for the space sciences and cites Elon Musk as his inspiration. While at
Rocketeers, he took a liking to propulsion systems and help us develop a nozzle
for our motors. Lets see what he has to say about working in a space science
based start up and his interest in space sciences.
Like many rocket science enthusiasts, my
passion for rocketry was ignited when I read Elon
Musk’s biography by Ashlee Vance. His dream
for making humanity a space-faring species is one that stuck with me and
revitalized my passion for engineering. Reading that book made me sit up and
take notice of space exploration as an area of interest. Hence, when time came
during my final year mechanical engineering at the Cochin University of Science
and Technology, I looked into doing projects related to rocketry systems. That
search led me to Rocketeers.
Working with Rocketeers was a totally new
experience for me. From gaining insights into how a
startup is managed to trouble-shooting
involved in developing the products, the two months I
spent with them is something I’ll always
cherish. It was surreal that I was working on projects that were ingrained in
rocketry. It is with pride that I say that I was involved in nozzle design and
fabrication. I designed a few conical nozzles which were then fabricated and
tested in Sivakasi, where the model rocket motors are tested. Designing a
nozzle from scratch gave me insights into how design and technology play a
vital role, even in making something as large as a launch vehicle.
The highlight of the whole experience was when
I helped conduct a model rocketry workshop with the team in a remote village in
Tamil Nadu. The joy and wonder on the children’s faces when the model rockets
they had made themselves rose a hundred feet into the air is something I still
When I came back to college, I was inspired to
start an aerospace club, called CUSAT, in my college. I guess my enthusiasm was
infectious and it was not long before I had a few friends who were keen on
taking this forward. We also participated in a model rocketry competition,
where we launched a rocket to a height of 600m. We built a model rocket with a
mock system, however the event was cancelled in the last moment. As a part of
the club’s activities, I also organized an inter planetary rover workshop in
association with Space Development Nexus, where a mobile rovers were built with
complete sensory capabilities.
I also led another team that signed up for the
ISRO Lander Design competition called “Touch the Jovian moon”, where we had to
design a lander to Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. Working on this was a four
month long gruelling process. Added pressure was that the judges were all ISRO
scientists. However, our hardwork and dedication paid off and we were placed in
the top 5 teams of the country.
After my graduation, I did a few research
projects at IIST where I got to work in the supersonic lab on a project on
scramjet propulsion and I also got to classify spray characteristics of rocket
injectors. My enthusiasm for space science has turned into a passion and
currently I am applying to universities for courses in thermal fluid and
aerospace engineering, to further my knowledge.
It’s ironic how all of this started with model
rocketry for me. Model rocketry is an activity that sadly is still in its
infancy in India. It holds the potential to bring more children into STEM
fields and inspire them to keep learning science. Rocketeers is pioneering that
vision with their activities and programs , be it the rocketry labs they’re
setting up in schools or the model rocketry workshops. I have high hopes for
them and wish them all the best.
The Chinese space agency has lofty plans for the future and their new workhorse, Long March 7, features predominantly in them.
As Wang Xiaojun sat at his table exhausted by
the day’s efforts at China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), his
eyes were drawn to the plaque with his name on it. Below his name big, bold
letters declared “Project Manager”. Since 2008, he had been leading a team on
dedicated scientists and designers to working towards making the next workhorse
of the chinese space program. The pressure was immense. He and his project
deputy manager, Zhang Tao, had put in everything they got to get this project going
on the right track. The ask was big and he know his team was up for the
challenge. The Long March 7 would be everything the Chinese space program
needed and more.
The project started in 2008. It started off as
a project to develop a replacement for the Long March 2F, which was the then
workhorse of the rocket fleet. It’s replacement would account for almost 70% of
all Chinese launches. CALT was charged with the task and owing to their stellae
track record there was no reason to be majorly concerned. With the acquisition
technology and development of theYF-100
engines, the original plan was to re-engine the Long March 2F. This would
involve a “simple” change of fuel from N2O4/UDMH
propellant and the result would be better thrust engines and improved
performance. If only rocket science was that “simple”.
The proposed changes lead to such complexity
that the project had to be restructured. Moreover, a parallel project, the Long
March 5, was aiming to achieve similar results. Hence, a decision was made to
merge the two projects. This meant a marriage of high reliability and flight
legacy components of the Long MArch 2F with the new technologies of the Long
In 2010, the project name was officially changed to Long March 7. The project included many firsts for CALT. It required the implementation of 11 new technologies and was the first time the whole process was developed in digital 3D with CAD and CAM. The project also proved the capability of indigenous avionics.
The Long march 7 or Chang Zheng 7 is a two
stage, medium lift, liquid fuelled carrier rocket capable of carrying 13,500 Kg
into Low Earth Orbit. The Long March 7 has the modular stages of the original
Long March 5 project. In fact, its first stage is the same module as the LM-5
boosters. It also shares tank diameters and engines with the Long March 6, but
the design groups were different. The basic Long March 7 can be reconfigured by
varying the number of boosters or enhanced by the addition of upper stages.
These stages allow more mission flexibility, like direct injection to higher
orbits or multiple orbit deployment. The additional stages include the
Yuanzheng-1A and a Hydrogen stage
The Long March 7 can use 0, 2 or 4 boosters.
They are powered by a single oxidizer-rich staged combustionYF-100
engine. Each boosters supplies 1,200 kN (270,000 lbf) at sea level and 1,340 kN
(300,000 lbf) in vacuum of thrust. Its specific impulse is 300 seconds (2.9
km/s) at sea level and 335 seconds (3.29 km/s) in vacuum. Each module has its
own single axis thrust vector control, and thus it required a special design in
the control systems of the rocket to coordinate all the rocket’s nozzles. The
level of customization the LM 7 provides is ideal to use the same vehicle for
different launches, hence optimizing costs.
Interestingly, Long March 7 rocket booster created a fireball visible from areas of Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho and California on the evening of July 27, 2016; its disintegration was widely reported on social media, and the uncontrolled re-entry of such a five-ton object was regarded as a rare event.
So far the LM7 has had only 2 launches with both being successful. The Chinese have big plans for the Long March 7 with it playing a critical role in the Chinese Space Station. The Long March 7 was used to launch the Tianzhou robotic cargo spacecraft, as a precursor to the Chinese Space Station plans. Eventually, it will be capable of placing a 5,500-kilogram payload into a sun-synchronous orbit.
As all this flashed before Wang Xiaojun’s eyes, he let out a smile. His eyes moved to a schematic of the Long March 7. He still remembered the day when the team gathered to give the vehicle a nickname. It was inspired by the “simple” fuel change problem they faced. He let out another smile. He liked the name….”Ice Rocket”!
From hurdles to accolades, it’s been a long journey. Along the way, we interacted with thousands of students, partners and teachers who have supported us and helped us grow. It’s now time to take things a notch higher.
” A very warm welcome to you all, and to our experienced Rocketeers, welcome back. It’s been a long time since we’ve have talked to you and boy do we have news to share”We created our rockets in mid 2015 and since then we have launched more than 35000 Typhoon model rockets housing B-class motors with over students from across the country, ranging from different backgrounds and age groups. Through all of this, there were only two things that remained constant: First, our aim and philosophy to introduce students to practical understanding based study methodologies for science and math and second, to make that process fun. We have received an overwhelming response for our efforts from students, teachers, parents, principals and academicians alike. We are so very grateful and we thank you all for the love.
During this time we have interacted with over 1,20,000 students and so many out of them inspired us to enable them to live the dreams of their young minds. These dreams share the same passions as ours do. The dreams of a vast and infinite future. The dreams of humans as a space-faring species. The dreams of space travel and colonisation of planets.
The children of today live in beautiful times. They will see within their lifetime not only the first human landing, but also efforts to set up human habitat on our celestial neighbour. They live on the precipice of a time when space science will enable technologies and applications never thought of or imagined before from sectors such as agriculture, communication, data analytics, disaster management and prediction, energy, travel and tourism and many more. Not only will the students of today see these technologies in their lifetimes but they will be the ones driving them as we build more and more capabilities to access space. Add to that the advances the Indian space program, ISRO has made in the present. What with its impressive track record of successful projects including the Mangalyaan and the upcoming Gaganyaan, space has become very accessible. The children live in an exploratory age which has arrived again after almost 400 years.
To bring the dream of space closer, to take students to the age of rockets, satellites and space travel, to build a world where space is as accessible as our skies, to conceive these technologies and more, we are creating a tool for enthusiasts, students, scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs. We present to you:
Our secret Sauce/USP is our curriculum and content design philosophy . We call it Experiential Learning. We have inculcated into our curriculum of experiential learning, an ever increasing plethora of industry professionals, Experts, Academics, Scientists and NewSpace pioneers. We incorporate their case studies into our curriculum to make the program industry relevant, oriented and also to keep it updated to the latest best practices in space tech. For our Cubesat curriculum we are already consulting over 30 ISRO scientists and more than 20 private space industries .
We are also working on formulating end to end solutions for :
● Space technology centric K12 & STEM education for schools
● Model Rocketry, CanSats and DIY Education for students & Enthusiasts
● Satellite and sounding rocket projects for colleges
● Workshops, courses & fellowships for professionals
● Skilling, training and recruitment solutions for Newspace industry.
We have Mr. JS Mann (Honorary Trustee, Indian Public School’s Conference) and Dr. Issaac
Kurien( Dean, Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology, & Ex- HOD, Aerospace
Engineering, IIT Bombay) as our education mentors.
All of this did create quite some noise and we couldn’t be happier for it. We are featured in many portals like Economic Times, The Hindu, Astronaut Today, The Week and many more. We have also been listed in Economic Times’ 50 startups to watch out for in 2017, where we were the first startup chosen in the Technology Category . Another feather on our hat is that we are one of the top 80 startups from India at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. We are also proud to launch our line up of model rockets. We are making India’s first indigenously developed range of solid fuel propelled model rockets and associated kits. These kits come complete with all the materials and instructions you will need to assemble and fly your model rockets. With the simplest kits starting at Rs.890, model rocketry is in the palm of your hands. What’s more, these kits are available online at our store as well at https://www.rocketeers.in/shop-rockets.
We have put in years of research, hard work and passion into these kits. They have been painstakingly designed to give you an experience like no other. Your purchase of these kits would mean a lot to us and also give us the impetus to keep working on coming up with exciting new models.
We hope we receive the same love from you as we did for our endeavours till now. Over the course of the next month we will be introducing you to the new set of our programs :
● New range of Model Rocketry and CanSat Workshops
● Much wider range of DIY kits
● Rocketeers Space Technology Labs for schools
● Rocketeers Space Leadership Fellowship
We will also be talking about the exciting developments in space tech across the world with articles about the industry, entrepreneurship in space, New Space, Space Policy and Laws.
Not just that, we will also start conducting competitive programs for students who excel in our programs with opportunities to work on actual flight hardware like sounding rockets and cubesats.
All of this just reiterates our motto:
“Rocket Science in every Classroom”
It’s been a long journey to get to where we are now and we wouldn’t have done it any other way. Through all the hoops and hurdles we had to get over, our passion for the work we do has kept us going. We have so much more to do and so much more to give. We are reaching for the stars…literarily. Until then, like always, stay “Nuts About Rockets”!
8th May 2013. Launchpad Two. It was 11:25 in the morning at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The ISRO team was on the edge of their seats with anxiety. The last time they had launched the GSLV, 2 years back, ended up being a partial failure. There was no room for error here now. No compromise. Success of this launch would mean exponential increase in India’s space research capabilities. This needed to go right. However, were the issues plaguing ISRO the last time sorted out?. What’s more they had added an extra 285 Kg to the payload. Will the launch be a success? Expectations were high. The world was watching.
Come 11:28 am and we had a successful lift off. Within minutes, the mission outcome was declared successful. The entire command centre erupted with joyous cheer, the team hugging each other and smiling from ear to ear.
The success was definitely worth celebrating. The GSLV consolidated our position as a space faring nation and instilled strength in our research capabilities. GSLV (Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle ) is our very own homegrown, desi 3 stage expendable launch system operated by ISRO. It has the capability to launch satellites into geosynchronous orbits where orbital periods are the same as the earth rotation.
The cryogenic engines for each of the 3 stages of the rocket are built a short 10 minutes walk from the Rocketeers office at the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, Bangalore. Initially, the 3rd stage engines were to be procured from Russia, but Russia backed out due growing global political pressures. It was then that ISRO pulled up its socks and in 1994 initiated the Cryogenic Upper Stage Project to develop the required cryogenic engines inhouse. Hence, it is no surprise that the GSLV is has a special corner in ISRO’s heart. It is the culmination of decades of hard work, dedication and sheer grit to prove our space might.
The GSLV has 3 variants. The Mk1 had a capability of launching a payload of 1500 Kg into geosynchronous orbit. Through various enhancements, majorly in chamber pressure and burn time, the latest Mk2 has the capacity to launch 2500 Kg into geosynchronous orbit. In fact, for launches from 2018, a 6% increased thrust version of the Vikas engine was developed and will be used in further missions as well. The Mk3 is a further enhanced version of the Mk2 with an ability to carry payload of upto 4000 Kg into geosynchronous orbit.
Interestingly, the GSLV has had a chequered past. During the initial years from the first launch to 2014, the launcher has had only 2 successful launches out of 7. However, the missions since then have been a resounding success, making the world take notice of our potential and frugal engineering driven inventiveness.
ISRO has a lot planned with the GSLV with 6 more missions planned in the pipeline, the earliest one taking place at the end of the year where the payload will the the GISAT 1, an Indian geo-imaging satellite for providing images quickly during disasters.
Owing to its chequered past, the GSLV has gained a reputation for itself and is ironically nicknamed “ The Untamable Beast”.
Today, we introduce you to Gitika Gorthi. Gitika is a 13 year old studying in the US who is a patron of Rocketeers. She has been passionate about space and rocketry since a very young age and is working towards spreading her love for rockets and help other love rocketry as well. She is definitely nuts about rockets, so much so that she has joined the National Association of Rocketry, USA and has also conducted a few workshops on rocketry in orphanages in Andhra Pradesh.
She loves the work we do and supports us in any way she can. Lets see what she has to say about rockets and our undeniably associated future with them. Read on…
Rocketry… what does it mean to you? To me, rocketry is the future for developing our society further. Rockets are not only a method of exploring the space, but the best way to transport technology outside the Earth. Our civilization runs on technology, mainly satellites that are launched using rockets. We know quite well that rockets have changed the world completely and have given us new eyes to see the universe. Rocket technology has completely evolved our way of living and will continue to do so forever. Ever since its invention during the Sung Dynasty (960-1279), it has brought man good. Man now knows more about space than ever before and will continue to explore this ever expanding area. It is, thus, our responsibility to inform the future generations of the importance of rocketry and teach them how to construct rockets. This is where organizations like Indian Rocketry Association, National Association of Rocketry, or Ignited Thinkers come into play. It is organizations like them that bring rocket enthusiasts into the workforce (ISRO, NASA, etc.) in order to continue building our civilization forward.
Rockets have many applications and here i shall explain a few of them. Rocket enthusiasts use rockets for high-speed, high-power transportation both within Earth’s atmosphere and out in space. Rockets are especially valuable for launching probes and satellites, for military use, atmospheric research, and space travel.
Rockets carry crewless spacecraft called space probes on long voyages, to explore the universe we live in and to understand the origin of life. These rockets also carry scientific instruments that gather information on the subject and transmit data back to Earth. Rockets lift human-made satellites into space to orbit the Earth. Some orbiting satellites gather information for scientific research, provide communication, help weather forecasting, and also navigation. You may not notice, but many of the things you do daily require satellites, and it is made possible through rockets. To get this into perspective, let us talk about our daily lives. Do you do any of the these: check the forecast to decide what to wear in the morning; use the GPS when you are lost; or communicate with those on the other side of the world? If you do, you are using satellites, and you are in need of rockets. Rockets are the reason for us to be able to do many of the things we do.
Apart from daily tasks, rockets are also used for military purposes. The importance of rockets was understood during World War 2 and the Cold War. The word missile is usually known for a “self-propelled guided weapon system,” but it may also refer to “any thrown or launched object.” Missiles are powered by an engine, usually either a type of rocket or jet engine. Militaries of different countries use missiles as a form of threat or as a way to win a battle. Missiles show power and mostly determine a country’s military strength.
Coming back to the science aspect of rockets, they are used for scientific research and space travel. The most remarkable research done by scientists with rockets is in the field of exploring the Earth’s atmosphere. The most common rocket used for this type of research is a sounding rocket (also known as a research rocket). A sounding rocket is an instrument-carrying rocket designed to take measurements and perform scientific experiments during its short flights. You may be wondering why sounding rockets are more commonly used, and the answer is because it has more advantages than many can imagine. Sounding rockets are advantageous for some research due to their low cost, short lead time (sometimes less than six months) and their ability to research areas inaccessible to either balloons or satellites. Now for space travel, the more exciting type of rockets are used. You may have read news of different powerful rockets getting launched into space and doing various tasks. To understand the basics, you should know that rockets are launched spacecrafts carrying astronauts to their predetermined location for research. The primary goals in space travel currently are: to go further into the solar system than before; send more humans out to the moon and/or Mars; to increase the number of astronauts and research that is done in the International Space Station (ISS) currently in space; to have a solar probe to touch the sun and gain more insight on its properties; and to most importantly, understand and explore our home planet, improve lives and safeguard our future. I hope I have helped you learn more about the importance of rocketry and that you continue to develop your knowledge on this topic. Please raise awareness on this topic, as rocketry is the pathway for developing our civilization further.
Model Rockets are a great way to learn and practically experience the fundamentals of science. Here is a simple guide to basics of model rocketry.
The vast expanse of space appears to us as a wondrous and mysterious bastion, and it is
probably this mystery that intrigues us. Mankind’s efforts to understand and charter space is
never ending and so is our fascination for it. It is thus no surprise that the very vehicles that take us to space receive similar adulation and adoration. Rockets are a perfect amalgamation of science, technology and mathematics and the perfect symmetry and a harmonious balance among the three create perfect ones. Rocket science is no longer a just term used to express complexity. With the increase in awareness and the Indian advances in space technology, model rocketry is quickly ballooning into more than just a hobby.
What are model rockets?
Essentially, model rockets are miniaturized working representation of the large rockets,
designed to reach low altitudes and be recovered by various means. They work on the same
basic principle as their larger counterparts albeit simplified and deconstructed for a smaller
scale. The model rockets differ based on the heights they reach and their recovery systems.
This in turn influences the payload they are able to carry, their size, fuel required etc.
Model rockets are classified mainly based on the motor used. They are:
Class (Base 26)
Total Impulse (N.s)
The largest model rocket motor according to TRA and NAR.
Level 1 Certification required from Tripoli or NAR. Under 125g propellant is Federal Aviation Administration exempt.
Level 2 Certification required from Tripoli or NAR.
Level 3 Certification required from Tripoli or NAR.
FAA/AST Permit or License required.
The largest motor used by amateurs.
The Wikipedia page on model rockets hosts quite a lot of information on this:
What makes them different from just a toy is the level of skill and technical knowledge required. A basic model rocket comprises of a removable engine (which is usually filled with solid fuel), a recovery system and recovery wadding on the inside. These are housed in an air frame tube that has a nose (where generally the payload goes) and fins for aerodynamic control.
To have an interactive understanding of the basic model rocket components, the link below
Now, there are enhancements to these basic parts that creates a better rocket. Model rocket
enthusiasts are excited by the opportunity rocketry provides for creativity. Coupled with the its inherent DIY nature, many materials, fuel mixtures, body design and recovery systems can be explored. There are however, guidelines that need to be followed. Many countries have their own institutions that monitor, regulate and certify the techniques and procedures. Although India doesn’t have a independent governing body or model rocketry as of now, these other agencies can be referred to where the basic guidelines remain broadly the same and primary focus is on safety and precautions.
Why build model rockets?
Quite simply put, it’s a excellent way to learn basic math and science. It is fascinating to
experience something seemingly daunting like rocket science, being broken down into simple math, physics and chemistry. Both children as well as adults get a hands-on approach to learning these fundamentals and can see the their hard work yield physical results that soar through the skies. Moreover, rockets themselves have applications that far exceed those that meet the eye. Not just space exploration, rockets are used in weather forecast, communication, navigation, agriculture, to name a few. It is hence intriguing to understand the scale of impact and in our own very backyard, try to replicate it on a smaller scale. If we think about it, many of the private space research organization started out as mere hobby groups for model rockets and look where they are now.
Let us consider Planet Labs . Set up in 2010 by a few ex-NASA scientists and physicists in a
garage, Planet Labs uses space to help life on earth. They miniature satellites called doves
which they launch into an orbit around the earth. These doves are equipped with hi-res cameras and telescopes that capture images of specific sections of the earth. All the satellites collectively can create a periodic up-to date picture of the earth, which is then used for climate monitoring, crop yield prediction, urban planning, and disaster response. In fact, in Feb 2017, 88 of these doves were launched using our very own PSLV.
There’s also Rocket Lab , a private Aerospace manufacturer that make launch vehicles that will carry payloads into low altitude orbits. They provide the opportunity for others to use their launch vehicles to put instruments into orbits.
But, perhaps the most convincing argument for the “why” of it all is that it’s just damn good fun. What’s not to love? You get to launch rockets that you have worked on yourself. The sheer process of failure and eventual success is a high like no other. Plus, you will end up meeting other model rocket enthusiasts who, in our humble and unbiased opinion, are some of the best people on the planet.
How to start to building model rockets?
To put it bluntly, there is no right way to get started with model rocketry. It is similar to
asking what book to read first when starting off to read seriously. Like with any other hobby,
there a few basic steps one could take to delve deeper. A simple online search brings up a
tsunami of information. It’s very important to understand the basics first and then start applying, which will help you appreciate the effort that you will have to put in. Use an encyclopedia or the vast resources on the internet to grasp the fundamentals.
Additionally, you could also read up on how model rocketing shapes up in other parts of the
world in order to draw inspiration.
Listed below are a few links that might come handy while doing your basic research
To start off initially, you could use simple DIY kits that are easily available these days. We,
Rocketeers, also have model rocket kits available for sale at our online store . Most of these kits come with simple instructions and all the equipment you will need, including safe to use fuel cartridges.
Interaction and networking with like minded people who share the same passion will heighten your model rocketing experiences. Sharing experiences and knowledge will help you be a part of a community and will make it a more rewarding and engaging journey.
Utmost importance must be given to safety. Since combustible materials are being handled,
make sure that all the necessary protective measures are taken to ensure safety not just for
yourself, but for those around you all well. These safety instruction are also available online or with the kits you purchase. It is strongly recommended that the safety guidelines be studied before planning to build or launch a model rocket. The link the National Association of Rocketry safety hand book is given below
Israel’s geopolitical history notwithstanding, the country’s space agency has had many successful space missions, all thanks to their wonder comet, The Shavit!
Israel’s space dreams were conceived in the hallowed halls of Tel Aviv University in early 1960s. The National Committee for Space Research (NCSR) was formed by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities to increase research activities across the academic communities in Israel. While at the time establishing a space program was not particularly one of its goals, the committee ended up developing infrastructure for space exploration and sciences. However, due to the growing geopolitical pressures Israel was subjected to by its neighbors, it was only in 1983 that the Israel Space Agency (ISA) was set up.
The jewel in the ISA’s crown is their only launch vehicle, The Shavit, making Israel one of only eight countries in the world that both build their own satellites and launch their own launchers. The Shavit, meaning comet in hebrew, is a three stage, solid fuel rocket that allows low-cost and high-reliability launch of micro/mini satellites.They are launched from Palmachim Airbase into highly retrograde orbits over the Mediterranean Sea to prevent debris coming down in populated areas and also to avoid flying over nations hostile to Israel to the east; this results in a lower payload-to-orbit than east-directed launches would allow and is a practice that has continued ever since.
The development of the Shavit began in 1982 and is designed to carry a payload of around 350Kg. The first two stages are based on the nuclear armed Jericho intercontinental ballistic missile, confirming the military’s involvement in the development of its space program.
The Shavit has had a total of 10 launches with the first one taking place on 19th September 1988 and the last one taking place on 13th September 2016. Out of these only 2 launches were failures where the vehicle failed to enter orbit. One such failure in 2004, resulted in the destruction of the $100 million Ofeq 6 spy satellite. Israel used IndianPSLV in the subsequent launch, while upgrading the Shavit launcher.
Interestingly, South Africa has license produced the Shavit in 1989 for its own space research purposes on the RSA series of launch vehicles. However, many years of development and testing later, the program was cancelled in 1994.
The Shavit’s payload is usually the different variations of its in house reconnaissance satellite, the Ofeq. However, Israel is strongly considering using the Shavit for commercial launches as well in the future.
Is it any wonder then, that the Shavit is called the ”Israeli Wonder Comet”?
Model Rocketry has a tumultuous and exciting history. What started during WW II as an experiment, is now in everyone’s reach.
There’s no doubt that model rockets are quickly gaining momentum in the mainstream, even to the extent of being popular. However, model rocketry as a hobby is thought of to be more of a recent trend whereas in fact, the modern model rockets have been around for decades.
Although rocketry as a concept was around since the 13th century, model rockets came into existence only much later. It was not till World War II did model rocketry flourish. Like many other fields, rocketry too was affected by World War II. The great war had ended and in the early 1930s it looked like the world was ready for war again. This time the differentiator would be arial attacks. Special emphasis was given on missiles that could destroy the enemy hundreds of miles away. It was Germany, that was able to build the first fully operational long range guided ballistic missile capable of suborbital space flight, called the V2. Germany used the V2 to bombard England. The world now looked at awe at the superpowers that possessed such military strength.
A natural progression of this was the Space Race, where sub orbital paths were being given special attention. Post WW II, the Space Race continued between the USA and the Soviet Union, with each nation trying the best the other. It was during this time that model rockets started garnering mainstream regard. Post WW II people were looking for hope and they looked up to the skies. The launch of the Sputnik put the Soviet Union in the lead in the space race and also led to a lot of young people trying to build their own rockets at home. The awe that rockets held, seeped into the common man and every backyard became a workshop. Some of these attempts were dramatized in the fact-based movieOctober Sky.
As model rockets grew in popularity, much research and experimentation was done by enthusiasts, specifically on improving the efficiency of the model rockets and more specifically the model rocket motor. It was in 1954 that Orville Carlisle, a shoe salesman/ licensed pyrotechnician and his brother Robert, a model rocket enthusiast, built the first modern model rocket. They initially designed the rocket motor for Robert to use in lectures on the principles of rocket-powered flight.
It was while flicking through the pages of Popular Mechanics magazine that Orville stumbled across articles by G. Harry Stine. In these articles, Stine argued the lack of safety while building model rockets at home and their spectacular failure. The Carlisle bothers soon realized that the rocket motors they had developed, would help provide a safe outlet for this new beorgening hobby. In January 1957 they sent samples of single use rocket engines to be used in reusable model rockets to Mr. Stein. Stein constructed, launched and fell in love with them
Their partnership was predestined and together, along with a few others, they started the first american model rocket company in their basement called “ Model Missiles Incorporated (MMI)”. The company saw great success, so much so that they had a hard time keeping up with the demand. Their suppliers, specifically of the rocket engines were local firework manufacturers and hence ran into reliability and delivery troubles. Stein finally found Vernon Estes. Vernon Estes loved the idea of a model rocket and came up with a custom built automated machine to specifically to make solid fuel model rocket engines for MMI. The machine, nicknamed “Mabel”, made low-cost motors with great reliability, and did so in quantities much greater than Stine needed.
MMI, unfortunately, didn’t stand the test of time and collapsed. However, Vernon Estes found success in manufacturing and marketing the model rocket engines independently, eventually setting up Estes Industries in Colorado. Eventually by the 1960s Estes Industries started marketing model rocket kits as well and began dominating the market. Many competitors like Centuri and Cox tried to find success in the market but to no avail. Even to this day, Estes Industries is the leader in rockets, motors, and launch equipment for the low- to medium-power rocketry.
In 1957, Stein and Orville Carlisle, founded the National Association of Rocketry (NAR) which, even today, is the premier organization dedicated to consumer safety, youth education, and the advancement of technology in the hobby of sport rocketry in the United States. It has a global following, with people of various nation being active members. The NAR has grown to become an international authority on model rockets with their performance and reliability certification of consumer rocket motors and for the certification of high-power rocket fliers held in high regard. Their model rocket safety code is said to have eliminated all possibilities of accidents and injury. The NAR has since launched 500 million model rockets.
By the time the world entered the 1970s, model rockets were a phenomenon. Enthusiasts started heavily experimenting with alternate materials and were also making their own model rocket motors. However, model rocketry was still largely unregulated. It was here that organizations like the NAR, Estes Industries and many others came together to bring about a provision in the laws of the land and regulate model rocketry. The introduction of these regulations had a positive effect in the acceptance of rocketry. Novice students now could become amateur enthusiast and could practice rocketry safely.
Since then, many companies have come and gone that have specialized in model rocketry. More recently, high powered rocketry has gained popularity with vehicles breaking Mach 1 and reaching heights of 3000 m. Custom built model rocket even experiment with reaching dizzying height of 17,000 m and producing colored and glittering plume of exhaust.
The history of model rockets is colorful and very interesting to observe. Most of the historical breakthroughs have happened in the USA. However, the other countries are not far behind with South Africa, UK, Canada, Switzerland and many other countries starting their own legalized model rocketry governing bodies. India as well is seeing a rise in interest in model rockets.
Hopefully, the day is not too far along that we have our own model rocket governing body that inspires minds to see the magic that is model rocketry.
Can true spirit ever be ever be squashed? 17 year old Hrithik Soni’s answer is a resounding no! Read his inspirational journey into model rocketry filled with hits and misses in equal measure!
Around 20 km from the capital city of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, there is a city called Gonda and in that city, there is a boy amongst the 34.33 lakh people that live there, for whom the sky is not the limit, literarily. Meet Hrithik Soni, a 17-year-old amateur model rocket enthusiast who is undeterred in his journey of model rocketry. Studying in the 11th std at Impulse International School, model rocketry is more than just a hobby for him. He has an active Youtube channel where he gives updates on the various experiments he does. What makes him a boy wonder is his ability to adapt to the situation around him and overcome lack of resources by sheer creativity. We tip our hats to him.
Here, he shares with us his journey into model rocketry and his trials and tribulations while on that journey.
I still remember the day when I decided to get in hobby rocketry. I was in 6th grade at the time and very influenced by the missile man of India, Dr. Abdul Kalam. Plus it also helped that I had a lot of interest in space science. And so I started making my first model rocket, but it was not easy for me as I was very green in this field with no experience and knowledge. I started searching online and I found several ways to make a rocket from scratch. But still, it was not easy for me as I lacked the resources. However, after several weeks of hard work and focus, I successfully made my first model rocket from an electrical PVC pipe. Now, all that I needed was the fuel to make it fly.
At first, I decided to use black powder motor but getting a black powder motor is not easy, so I went online and started searching for ways to make a homemade rocket motor and found a YouTube channel named “King of Random”. Here, they had videos on making a rocket motor from sugars. Filled with positive enthusiasm, I started to build the rocket motor. But this motor used Potassium Nitrate as an oxidizer and it’s not easily available in my locality. So, I started wondering if one could make potassium nitrate at home. I found a YouTube channel named “Codys Lab”, where I found a video teaching us to make Potassium Nitrate from urine and fly ash. I tried it and after finally three months of trying and retrying, I got it. However, the Potassium Nitrate was too impure for use, so ultimately I had to look for commercially available Potassium Nitrate. I found it in a shop at 20 rupees per 100
grams. To arrange for the money required, I used to make rocket bodies and sell them at 30 rupees in my locality. With enough money from the sales, I could purchase the Potassium Nitrate and I made a lot of motors.
I made around 60 rocket motors out of which 52 failed at liftoff. But my will was strong and I went on trying. After several hundreds of attempts, I finally achieved it, my first successful model rocket motor. After that, I thought to build a larger rocket and started working on it. Within a week I made my first 5 ft rocket and its motor but when it was put to test, it failed.
I felt really bad about the failure but I was not going to stop. I knew that I needed some guidance and improvements to the design. During the search for guidance, I found a model rocket enthusiast Gary Hooper, who makes and flies model rockets that go up to several thousand feet. He guided me towards the right way to pursue amateur rocketry and it helped me a lot. Now, I can make several types of fuel mixtures like KNDX, KNSU, AND KNSB, KN ERYTHRITOL, EPOXY-APCP based propellants.
I tried again to make an amateur rocket in 2018 and by hard work and luck, it was able to. Happy with the results, I also took it to the National Science Exhibition and presented it.
This rocket can reach heights of around 3000 ft – 4000 ft and is powered by a J700 sugar KNDX motor. It has a 55 inches hexagonal parachute for recovery and the ejection charge is crimson powder. I tested the J700 motor, but it failed due to detachment of nozzle. I have posted a video of that test on my youtube channel named BHARAT INDUSTRIES.
More recently, I got in contact with the famous Indian rocketry group, Rocketeers and had a really good time discussing model rockets with them…
Now I’m planning to make a model rocket that can go higher than before, and this will be the beginning of my entry into amateur rocketry in India.
Moonshot is our shoutout to dreamers who have looked up at the sky and thought to conquer it. Whether you are a 10 year old science enthusiast or a 25 year old artist or just someone who’s curious, Moonshot is your gateway to model rocketry.
Designed to be safe, simple and fun, the Moonshot offers a highly intuitive learning experience. It are easy to build and offers a premium experience like no other. The Moonshot is assembled DIY style and the kits come packed with all materials required and some sparkling information about rocketry. It is a versatile learning tool, sure to spark your imaginations
Here is a small video detailing its assembly.
More videos of our other products are coming soon. Watch this space for more!