Friday, June 21, 2024

PH’s first homegrown hybrid rocket set for launch in 2023

The Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) has set the launch of the TALA hybrid rocket in 2023, the country’s first high-power hybrid rocket made from 3D-printed advanced composite materials.

Members of the St. Cecilia’s College Rocketry Team with their TALA hybrid rocket
Photo from St. Cecilia’s College Rocketry Team

TALA was supposed to be launched in March 2020 from Mati City Airport, Davao Oriental but had to be postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic.

The rocket was developed by homegrown space technology researchers, students, and their mentors from St. Cecilia’s College-Cebu in 2018.

The rocket, measuring 10 feet and weighing 15 kilograms, was developed under the Young Innovators Program of the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD).

Since early 2022, PhilSA and the TALA team, in collaboration with the Philippine Air Force through the Philippine Air Force Research and Development Center, have been jointly working on the renewed preparations for the launch at Colonel Ernesto Rabina Airbase (CERAB) or Crow Valley in Tarlac City.

“We thank PhilSA, PAF, and DOST-PCIEERD for supporting our intent to contribute to the advancement of our local space research environment. Through demonstrating our knowledge and capability in rocket development, we hope to inspire more local research and development efforts that will benefit the advancement of our local space education and industry,” Wilfredo Pardorla Jr., one of the TALA rocketry team mentors, said.

The team was formed in 2017 to launch several 3-feet solid propellant rockets in commemoration of the anniversary of the first high-altitude balloon flight in the Philippines by an academic institution
Photo from St. Cecilia’s College Rocketry Team

Among the features of the TALA rocket are flight sensors, a GPS, a dual parachute deployment, and a payload system to bring a Can Satellite (CanSat) up to approximately 5 kilometers into the atmosphere.

“CanSats are simulated satellites the size of soda cans developed and used in educational settings to remotely gather environment data through built-in sensors. Researchers in the country deploy CanSats through drones. Sending CanSats to higher altitudes via hybrid-propellant rockets is a cost-effective way to further enrich space R&D in the country,” Almida Plarisan, one of the TALA rocketry team mentors, explained.

PhilSA director-general Dr. Joel Joseph S. Marciano Jr. has given his full support to the initiative: “We are proud of the young innovators of St. Cecilia’s College Cebu who built the TALA rocket, and are truly inspired by their hard work and initiative.

“PhilSA is quite fortunate to have an opportunity to support its launch, as this is a milestone that will certainly yield important learnings. We hope that this will also motivate other young Filipinos to pursue their own space endeavors and journeys in scientific discovery, just as it motivates us to heighten our efforts in promoting and expanding homegrown space capabilities.”

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