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The Purdue Hybrid Rocket Project was initiated in 2004 by a group of graduate and undergraduate students in the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics in order to apply their engineering abilities to further the development of hybrid rocket technologies. The purpose of the project is to engineer a space vehicle capable of delivering suborbital microgravity experiments to altitudes exceeding 62 miles.

We are working towards our goal by incrementally improving each design to reach higher altitudes more efficiently. Our group has designed, manufactured and tested three different hybrid rocket motors in over 40 hot-fire tests at the Purdue Zucrow rocket laboratories. The first generation hybrid flight-vehicle was successfully launched and reached an altitude of 6,100 ft and Mach 0.6 in June 2009, making an important step towards flight operations for this series of hybrid rocket technology demonstrators. This Purdue hybrid sounding rocket has been the largest hydrogen-peroxide hybrid rocket launched to date.

This research project is led by Purdue students with support from the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. This endeavor provides an invaluable educational experience to the students who are responsible for the design, assembly, testing and launch of a fully integrated flight-vehicle. In addition to the real world application of engineering skills, the students are called to develop very important soft skills such as team work, public speaking, presentation, leadership, management, planning, budgeting and fund raising.

A second generation (GEN II), high propellant mass fraction flight-vehicle is currently being developed for supersonic flights to altitudes exceeding 30,000 ft and Mach 2. We intend to design the rocket to participate in two competitions this year. Our team will compete in the advanced category of the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC), held annually in June near Green River, Utah, with the objective of launching a 10 pound payload precisely to 25,000 ft and recover the entire rocket system intact. Our team will also participate in the Mavericks International Civilian Space Competition which is an annual event held in Black Rock Desert, Nevada.