Łukasiewicz – Institute of Aviation has performed a successful flight test of the ILR-33 AMBER rocket in its latest 2K version. The test took place at the Air Force Training Centre in Ustka, Poland in October 2022. The purpose of the mission was to test the new rocket’s subsystems and the WR-2 mobile launch pad, developed at the Institute.
While ILR-33 AMBER had its maiden launch in 2017, becoming the world’s first vehicle to demonstrate in flight use of modern grades of hydrogen peroxide as propellant (98% High Test Peroxide), its successful three missions were limited to low apogees. The ultimate AMBER rocket, which is to conduct suborbital flights to the Von Karman Line, ILR-33 AMBER 2K, was announced in late 2019.
A large number of technical improvements have been applied to the new version of the AMBER rocket in comparison to the previous version. The propellant mass of the boosters has been increased several times and their average thrust has been tripled. New separation systems allowed to increase the safety of ground operations and reduce in-flight separation shocks. Along with the new version of the rocket, the Institute also tested its WR-2 suborbital rocket launcher – the mobile autonomous launch pad for suborbital vehicles.
– Previous field tests allowed us to verify the concept of the rocket under development. The new version (2K) has an increased maximum ceiling. We focused on safety and reducing the impact of atmospheric conditions on the risk of launch cancellation. The new WR-2 launch pad allowed to precisely adjust the elevation and azimuth of the rail, depending on the prevailing wind conditions near the ground just before the launch. During the current test, we checked the in-flight functionality of the new boosters and studied their effect on the flight trajectory. We are satisfied with the results obtained during the conducted test – says Michal Pakosz, head of the Rocket Technologies Department at Łukasiewicz – Institute of Aviation.
Designed to reach heights of more than 100 km, this time – for safety reasons, due to the presence of strong jet stream at higher altitudes – the rocket was able to reach 8 km. Low oxidizer loading of the tank allowed to limit the apogee of the mission.
Despite reaching a lower altitude, the mission scenario was fully implemented and the rocket was recovered from the Baltic Sea.
The flight test carried out in Ustka is the next step in the AMBER program, preparing both for the launch to higher altitudes and for the implementation of the mission within the SUBCOM project. The aim of the project is to develop an independent communication and navigation system for space and rocket applications. The AMBER 2K rocket will be used for this purpose.
Conducting flight tests was possible thanks to cooperation with the Armed Forces General Command, the Armed Forces Support Inspectorate and the Air Force Training Centre in Ustka, with the support of the Institute of Meteorology and Water Management.
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