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Thursday, 22 November, 2001, 14:50 GMT
British experts claim rocket success
Rocket, Mars
We have lift-off for Britain's most advanced rocket
By BBC News Online science editor Dr David Whitehouse

British rocket enthusiasts say they have successfully tested the most powerful rocket motor ever launched from the UK.


We are now in a position to be the only group to be reliant only upon our own British-developed rocket engine technology

Ben Jarvis
The blast-off, to an altitude of 2,134 metres (7,000 feet), took place from a remote part of Scotland on 18 November, but has only just been revealed after the vehicle was recovered and the rocket's performance was verified.

Rocket expert Richard Osborne said the Deimos-2 vehicle was probably one of the largest, amateur, hybrid rockets ever flight-tested anywhere in the World. It should eventually be able to get into space.

Mars (the British advanced rocketry society behind this success) currently holds the altitude record for a privately built UK rocket, at almost 10,668 m (35,000 ft).

British technology

Mars said the first test of their rocket's B4 motor, which the group has been developing for the last three years, went superbly. Cameras on board Deimos-2 relayed live pictures as it lifted clear of the launch pad.

Rocket, Mars
The first step to space?
For its first test, the 5.4-m-tall (18 ft) Deimos-2 was launched using the smallest of its fuel tanks, and flew at only a third of its maximum thrust.

The fact that the vehicle performed so successfully now clears the way for it to be flown with one of its larger fuel tanks, and at higher thrust levels, to much higher altitudes.

The hybrid motor is powered by nitrous oxide and solid polyethylene. Experts say that this fuel combination provides great advantages in terms of safety over other propellants.

Passenger 'bandwagon'

Ben Jarvis from Mars told BBC News Online: "All of the other well-known UK rocketry groups use factory-made rocket engines from America that are about half the power of this engine.

"We are now in a position to be the only group to be reliant only upon our own British-developed rocket-engine technology."

The rocket motor fired for 14.5 seconds, as predicted, and reached a maximum velocity of 1,050 km/h (650 mph).

Mars aims eventually to put a rocket into space.

Ben Jarvis said: "We aim to be able to offer serious launch services for scientific and educational payloads on board our rockets, once they are proven to be reliable.

"We don't intend to jump on the bandwagon of claiming we'll be launching passengers into orbit in the near future. That sort of thing is still unfortunately a few decades away."

See also:

22 Nov 01 | Sci/Tech
Rocketeer launches from Morecambe
02 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
Rocketeers smash UK record
02 Oct 00 | Sci/Tech
Rocket team claim record success
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