Another landmark has been achieved at Westcott thanks to a major breakthrough by propulsion systems research company, Airborne Engineering.
The company has achieved what is believed to be the first successful test of a vertical take-off, vertical landing (VTVL) rocket in Europe.
The rocket, codenamed Gyroc, a shortening of “gyro-stabilised rocket”, is the result of several years of research and development carried out by Airborne Engineering at Westcott Venture Park.
VTVL rockets such as Gyroc can be used to test technologies required for landing on other planets, such as Mars.
A video of the test launch has been made available and can be seen here:
It shows the rocket taking off from blocks and hovering for a short time before descending and shutting down. It is tied to a gantry to prevent damage in case it had to be shut down prematurely.
Gyroc uses non-toxic rocket propellants (nitrous oxide and isopropyl alcohol), weighs about 20kg and can hover for more than 30 seconds.
After further testing, Airborne Engineering plans to scale-up the vehicle so that it can be used to help other organisations developing autonomous planetary landing technology needing to carry out testing.
James Macfarlane, director of Airborne Engineering said: “This is a significant milestone for us and we are delighted testing has been successful.
“The video has been made public for the first time and I am sure it will generate a lot of interest among other space sector companies as well as the wider general public.”
Development of Gyroc was entirely self-funded by Airborne Engineering but the European Space Agency provided additional backing for the test programme which the firm hopes will lead to greater collaboration in the future.
Nigel MacKenzie, project manager at Westcott says: “It is fantastic to see achievements such as this happening on the Park and we wish Airborne Engineering well for future developments.
“It is a great example of the ground breaking work being carried out at our Space Cluster by companies supporting rocket and satellite enabled research and development projects.”