technion rocket project.
(photo credit: Technion)
A unique research rocket planned and built by students of the aeronautics and space engineering faculty of the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology was successfully launched on the Haifa campus on Tuesday. The project, run in cooperation with RAFAEL (the Israel Armaments Development Authority), was supervised by Technion faculty members.
Called Ramtech, the rocket is a ramming rocket of a type that was never flight-tested here before and isn't yet in use abroad. Weighing 90 kilos, it is 3.7 meters long. Prof. Alon Gani of the Technion's aeronautics and space engineering faculty, and Yitzhak Greenberg of RAFAEL said that the rocket constitutes a "technological breakthrough. We had nothing before this; there was no experimental flight before that we could base it on. We began from zero," they stressed.
The ramming rocket uses solid fuel that has never been tried in Israel. The ramjet engine puts the air under aerodynamic pressure until it reaches a very high speed without a pressurizer. The simple jet engine has no moving parts, but it nevertheless functions at a speed much higher than that of a turbo jet engine, they added.
"Ramming engines will in the future be able to be part of jets traveling faster than the speed of sound, at five to 10 times the speed of sound," said Gani. "In addition, their advantage is lower fuel requirements, which allows the planes to travel longer distances."
The main shortcoming of the engine is that it cannot start working from a stationary spot on the ground; it must first reach twice the speed of sound. So the rocket was launched at the Technion using a rocket engine, and only when it reached a speed 2.5 times the speed of sound and a height of nearly four kilometers did the engine begin to take over for the rocket.
About 20 Technion students worked on the project over the last five years, with funding from the Dvora Foundation and with help from Greenberg, a Technion graduate. Most of the participating students have already completed their studies. The launch team was comprised of four students, including one woman.