Phoenix-1A Hybrid Sounding Rocket


The Phoenix-1A hybrid rocket was the first flight vehicle to developed within the HSRP by ASReG. It was developed to be a low-altitude technology demonstrator to gain experience in hybrid sounding rocket design, development and testing. The vehicle was designed to meet an apogee of 10 km with a 1 kg payload. It utilised a nitrous oxide and paraffin wax propellant combination. The PV-1 motor used on the vehicle was designed to generate 4250 N of thrust with a burn time of 20 s. The oxidiser tank and combustion chamber were machined from aluminium 6082-T6 billets due to the unavailability of suitable extruded tubes. The nosecone and interstage were manufactured from pre-impregnated carbon fibre.

Technical Specifications

Fuel: SASOL 0907 paraffin wax
Oxidiser: Nitrous oxide
Design O/F ratio: 6.8
Motor design thrust: 4250 N
Total impulse: 75000 Ns
Vacuum specific impulse: 243 s
Burn time: 20 s
Design apogee: 15 km
Lift-off mass: 90 kg
Payload: 1 kg
Diameter: 0.2 m (tank), 0.18 m (chamber)
Length: 4.55 m

Testing & Launch

The Phoenix-1A underwent a successful cold flow test however had three failed hot-fire tests thereafter. This was due to ignition failures attributed to quenching of the igniters. A successful hot-fire test was conducted in August 2013 with the motor generating a peak thrust of 3250 N.High frequency acoustic combustion instabilities were observed during the test which was thought to be caused by the use of a conical injector. An axial injector was therefore used for the flight test.

The Phoenix-1A was launched in August 2014 from Denel Overberg Test Range in the Western Cape, South Africa. An apogee of only 2.5 km was achieved due to oxidiser under-fuelling and a nozzle failure during lift-off. The recovery system also failed resulting in the destruction of the vehicle on landing. 

The Phoenix-1A hot-fire test:

The Phoenix-1A launch campaign:

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