• University of Canterbury students preparing Milly for launchUniversity of Canterbury students preparing Milly for launch

University of Canterbury students build record-breaking rocket

A supersonic rocket built by a group of students at the University of Canterbury, was today confirmed as having smashed the worldwide altitude record for rockets in its class.

The I-class rocket was launched from Lake Tekapo, New Zealand on July 26, and it’s flight GPS data shows that it reached a height of more than 4889m – eclipsing the previous World record of 4324m.

From launch, the supersonic rocket travelled at speeds of over 2000 km/hr and broke the sound barrier just 70m above ground.

The 740mm rocket was named Milly by the rocketry project team.  The team is made up of postgraduate and research students studying New Zealand’s only rocketry course at the University of Canterbury.  PhD student David Wright says he decided to design and construct a highly optimised rocket to attempt the world record after a transmitter failure on an earlier rocket (intended to break the NZ record of 1117m) meant that the altitude could never be verified.  Mr Wright said "This proves that we (NZ) can both compete on a world stage and lead the way by using innovative techniques to vastly improve performance of these vehicles."

As well as being a record breaker, the launch gave the team an opportunity to test out a variety of modifications and equipment to help their research towards future launches, as well as the new testing site at Lake Tekapo.  So we can probably expect much greater and higher flying supersonic rockets to come from the UC rocket research project soon.

The course at UC is New Zealand’s first and only rocket course under the supervision of Rutherford Discovery Fellow and senior electrical and computer engineering lecturer Dr Chris Hann, and backed by Rocket Lab Ltd in Auckland.  The second semester course is open to all engineering students and involves designing and implementing everything relating to rockets including the airframe, 3D printing of canards, rocket engine design, instrumentation and sensors, control systems and parachute recovery.

You can find out more about studying engineering in New Zealand here, and read more about the University of Canterbury hereContact a Study Options student advisor for advice and assistance with applying to the University of Canterbury.  UC are currently offering scholarships exclusively for undergraduate engineering students from the UK, find out more here.

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