Phoenix Hybrid Sounding Rocket Program
The Phoenix Hybrid Sounding Rocket Program (HSRP) was started at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in 2010 within the School of Engineering’s Aerospace Systems Research Group (ASReG). The program started in the context of the South African government’s prioritisation of skills and resource development in space-related research. South Africa does not offer a sounding rocket launch service in support of the country’s or the African continent’s scientific endeavours who have to instead use expensive foreign sounding rocket service providers.
The program has developed two flight vehicles to date with the third currently in development:
South African First Integrated Rocket Engine (SAFFIRE)
The South African First Integrated Rocket Engine (SAFFIRE) is a paper design study started by ASReG on a modular and compact liquid propellant rocket engine. Rapid advances in pico-satellite technology have led to a growing interest in smaller launch vehicles that can rapidly deploy cubeSats to low Earth orbit (LEO) at low cost. For countries like South Africa, with fledgling satellite industries but no launch capacity, the outsourcing of payload delivery to foreign providers is costly and can also lead to unanticipated delays. This raises the question of whether South Africa should develop an indigenous commercial launch vehicle.