Researchers smash rocket record

UP AND AWAY: 'Milly' broke the world I-class rocket altitude record.
UP AND AWAY: 'Milly' broke the world I-class rocket altitude record.

A team of researchers from Canterbury University have broken a world rocket altitude record near Tekapo in South Canterbury.

A launch team of five people watched as the rocket, nicknamed "Milly", broke the world I-class rocket altitude record on July 26.

The rocket hit speeds of over 2000 kilometres per hour and attained a recorded height of 4,889 metres, well above previous record holder John Wilke's 4324.5m.

The rocket's designer, Rangiora-born postgraduate student David Wright, said a modular design used to slim down the rocket helped the team to reach new heights. 

Using 3D printing to develop prototypes of internal components and the rocket's nose cone also contributed to the ammonium perchlorate-powered rocket's record-breaking success.

"It sped up the development quite a lot," Wright said.

Electrical engineering PhD student George Buchanan said the Tekapo launch site was "ideal" for the launch, due to its low wind speeds, lack of trees and clear air.

As well as breaking the world altitude record for I-class rockets, the launch indicates the team will be able to provide high-performing supersonic rockets for the University's rocketry project, which aims to develop supersonic control systems for rockets.

The Timaru Herald