Spaceflight Insider

Starchaser Industries launches Tempest rocket

Tempest-4 liftoff

Tempest-4 liftoff. Photo Credit: Jon Harris / Starchaser Industries

Early on Monday evening, Sept. 21, 2015, was the launch of Tempest-4, one of the rockets built by Starchaser Industries, who are based in Hyde, Greater Manchester, UK. The event took place on the estate of Capesthorne Hall in rural Cheshire. Originally, the launch was scheduled for the early morning, but due to adverse weather conditions, it was pushed back to a later time. 

Tempest-4 prelaunch check

Tempest-4 prelaunch check. Photo Credit: Jon Harris / Starchaser Industries

Waiting excitedly were 100s of budding engineers and space enthusiast from more than 20 schools from around the region ready to witness the latest experiment. Most of which are active in the Educational Outreach Programme for schools and other similar entities in the UK. The program, using real examples of rockets and scientific principles, aims to excite and inspire pupils to get interested in Science and Engineering.

Starchaser was founded in 1992 by CEO Steve Bennett, who was also the Director Space Technology Laboratory at the University of Salford. Since early childhood, witnessing the Moon landing on TV was one of many influences that had led to the creation of Starchaser and to develop Steve’s life’s goal to send a manned mission into space.

“This country needs more scientists and engineers,” Bennett said. “What better way to inspire the next generation than with the spectacular launch of a large-scale British rocket?”

It was in 2001 when a Starchaser rocket Nova 1 – which is 37 feet (11.28 meters) in height – reached a speed of 600 mph (966 km/h) in a few seconds after take-off and soared to a height of over 5,000 ft (1.52 km). It was launched from Morecambe Bay (UK) and still retains the UK record for the biggest successful rocket launch from the British mainland.

Tempest-4 liftoff

Tempest-4 liftoff. Photo Credit: Jon Harris / Starchaser Industries

This was Tempest’s fourth flight, a reusable rocket that was first flown in 1999. The rocket stands at 4.2 meters (14 feet) tall and weighs 20kg; its lightweight structure is reinforced with epoxy and phenolic resins. It is powered by a single solid rocket motor providing a maximum thrust of up to 1,000 newtons (224.81 lbf).

Also active on the project was the Science and Engineering Faculty of the University of Chester, who used their vital electronic systems on the flight for later developments on Starchaser’s future Space Tourism rockets. An experimental GPS package, provided by the University of Manchester, was placed on board the rocket. The University of Leicester used air quality monitoring equipment as part of their experiment and a data logger from the University of Sheffield. In addition, there were also two onboard video cameras.

Professor Nick Avis, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Chester, and Provost of Thornton Science Park, added: “The University of Chester is delighted to be involved in this project which links nicely to our new science and engineering programs at the UK’s first engineering faculty for more than two decades, which launched last year at Thornton Science Park.

“Our students will have the opportunity to undertake industrial placements as part of their degree programs at companies such as Starchaser Industries and we look forward to working closely with them on their future ambitious projects.”

The altitude was restricted to 3,000 feet (914 m) so as not to interfere with the Lovell radio telescope at nearby Jodrell Bank. The countdown commenced at 18:58 BST (GMT+1). Tempest flew in a south-west trajectory up to a height of 3,000 ft and a speed of 200 mph (322 km/h). The launch went to plan as the main rocket split into two and parachuted down safely.

“We got some really good data and videos from the drones filming it,” Bennett said. “It was amazing watching the rocket set against the fading light and sunset.”

Video Courtesy of Mace Uavrg


The preceding is a press or news release either issued by one of the space agencies or by an aerospace firm or organization. The views expressed in the above post do not necessarily reflect those of SpaceFlight Insider.

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