Supersonic rocket disappears at Lake Ellesmere

22:59, Dec 23 2013

Two University of Canterbury students are holding out hope their supersonic rocket will show up.

George Buchanan and David Wright, final-year mechatronics students, launched the rocket yesterday from Kaitorete Spit, Lake Ellesmere, with the hope of breaking an altitude record.

But they cannot confirm whether they managed it or not, because they cannot find the rocket.

Buchanan said they had a "good search" yesterday in the area they expected the rocket to land, but it was looking "pretty unlikely" they would find it.

Now the students are asking farmers in the area around the Spit to keep an eye out for a small, black cylinder which may have a small streamer attached.

"We are pretty confident that we got the record," Buchanan said. But without retrieving the rocket, they cannot officially verify whether they exceeded the current altitude record for small rockets of 1.1km.

The rocket was expected to take two seconds to reach its maximum speed of 1425km an hour, and about 19 seconds* to reach its maximum height of 2.6km.

* An earlier version of this story said the rocket would take two seconds to reach its maximum height. This was incorrect.


The Press