On Sunday, November 25, 2018, SpaceForest conducted the first flight of the BIGOS 4 rocket to the altitude of 15 kilometres on the military training ground in Drawsko Pomorskie.
The aim of the test was to verify the aerodynamic parameters and construction assumptions of the rocket in the supersonic flight. It also tested the efficiency of communication with the rocket during the flight using the RASEL autonomous tracking and data transmission system designed by SpaceForest, checked the course of fuelling the rocket after placing it on the launchpad and verified a set of procedures to correctly test the vehicle.
The Sunday test of the BIGOS 4 rocket was fully successful. The vehicle developed a maximum speed of 2 Ma and reached a level of 15 kilometres in 50 seconds.
- The altitude of 15 kilometres, although not limited by the performance potential of the BIGOS 4 rocket, is currently the maximum limit set on the Drawski training ground because of the security reasons. However, it is enough to develop supersonic speed and test the aerodynamic properties of the rocket under conditions of already very thin air. The test also allowed us to confirm the previous calculations regarding the amount of fuel that needed to be tanked not to exceed this limit. We are happy that we have been able to verify our assumptions with a very high accuracy - says Robert Magiera, CEO of the SpaceForest. - Like after the first test, we were able to recover all elements of the rocket in a condition suitable for the next flight. It is also extremely important that in the aspect of preparations for the start we managed to flawlessly carry out the procedure of fuelling the rocket after placing it on the launchpad. Such a procedure is required by port services, among others in Sweden or Norway, thus testing it is necessary to be able to use them for commercial purposes.
The BIGOS 4 rocket measures 5500 mm high and 204 mm in diameter. The vehicle's weigh without fuel amounts to 65 kilogrammes while its weight while starting amounts to 100 kilogrammes. The construction can be 100% recovered and ready for use within 72 hours after the its mission.
The first flight of BIGOS 4 rocket took place on Friday, 2 November 2018, at the military airfield in Babie Doły near Gdynia. The vehicle was launched to an altitude of 1000 meters. The flight was successful and the whole carrier was recovered.
BIGOS 4 AS THE PROTOTYPE OF THE PERUN ROCKET
BIGOS 4 is a 1: 2 scale model of a future suborbital rocket of the SIR (Suborbital Inexpensive Rocket) category called PERUN. The PERUN rocket is designed and developed by SpaceForest as part of a project co-financed by the National Centre for Research and Development (NCBR). The aim of the project is to create the first Polish rocket capable of carrying 50 kilogrammes of cargo to an altitude of 150 kilometres.
PERUN is an 11 meters long rocket powered by SF1000 hybrid rocket propulsion system (1 million Ns) developed at SpaceForest. The use of such a drive allows to regulate the acceleration of the vehicle during the flight and break down the mission in an emergency without the need of destroying the rocket. Thanks to the developed control system, it will be possible to control the trajectory of the flight and to safely use the planned take-off place. The rocket will be equipped with a controlled system of recovering its elements enabling safe landing in a defined area, which will significantly minimize the recovery costs and the time of preparation between further flights.
- The PERUN rocket will be able to offer a cost-effective platform for research in the microgravity environment. Designed to ensure high performance at very low operating costs, it can become an attractive commercial choice for customers on the Polish and foreign markets, offering the lowest prices for such services in the world – said Robert Magiera.
POLAND BUILDS COMPETENCES IN THE FIELD OF SUBORBITAL ROCKETS
The beginnings of the Polish suborbital rocket program date back to the 1970s, when domestic scientists have constructed and tested the first Polish suborbital rocket as part of the "Meteor" atmosphere sounding program. However, this program has been closed. Currently, suborbital rocket technologies are being developed in Poland by SpaceForest and by the Institute of Aviation, which constructed the ILR-33 rocket "Amber" which is a demonstrator of ecological technology of hybrid rocket propulsion using highly concentrated hydrogen peroxide.
- New technological niches are clearly emerging in the global space market. One of them is the development of small orbital and suborbital rockets. In the case of the latter, Polish entities are absolutely technologically keeping pace with their western market rivals. The recent successful BIGOS 4 test flight opens up the opportunity for SpaceForest to build in a short period of time a rocket that will reach the edge of space, allowing the company to provide services to commercial and private entities. With a lot of successful tests of Polish rocket solutions on the account, it will be easier to enter as a subcontractor the global market rocket projects - says Grzegorz Brona, PhD, president of the Polish Space Agency. - The Polish Space Agency, both this year and within the framework of the National Space Program for the years 2019-2021, actively supports this process, by i.a. coordinating enabling the starting sites to Polish suborbital rockets.
POLISH SPACE NOVEMBER
The launch of the BIGOS 4 rocket is one of the important events for the Polish space industry, which take place in the second half of November 2018. On November 26, 2018, NASA's InSight probe landing took place on Mars with a device penetrating the Martian ground with a thrusting mechanism developed and implemented in Poland by the Astronika company with the support of national enterprises and research institutes. Also in November, the launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is expected to bring two Polish satellites into orbit: the student PW-Sat2 and the Finnish-Polish ICEYE-X2 as well as the ESEO / S-50 satellite under the auspices of the European Space Agency, for which the telecommunications system was prepared at the Wrocław University of Technology. The negotiations conducted by the Polish Space Agency on joining the European SST Consortium (Space Surveillance and Tracking) are coming to an end. Poland’s membership in the Consortium will allow domestic entities to participate in projects financed by the European Union, whose budget in the current financial perspective will amount to almost EUR 100 million. The agency is also finalizing the analytical work on the results of a survey on the needs of the Polish public administration for the use of satellite data, implemented by PAK as a part of the Sat4Envi project.
The November events engaging domestic space sector are accompanied by an information campaign under the slogan "Poland in Space - space November" carried out with the support of the Polish Space Agency and the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology.
The November achievements of the Polish entities are in line with the development directions set by the Polish Space Strategy adopted by the government in 2017. The Polish space industry currently consists of ca. 50 entities, mostly from the SME sector, whose activity is focused on the satellite and space technologies. For more than 100 entities, projects in this area constitute only a part of the conducted activity. The dynamic development of this industry began with Poland joining the European Space Agency in November 2012. The Polish companies and research institutes used 6 years of our country's membership in ESA very effectively. They have implemented or currently implement for the European agency about 330 contracts with a total value of over EUR 100 million, they participate in prestigious ESA space missions such as: Rosetta - for 67P / Churiumow-Gerasimenko comet, Cassini-Huygens - for Saturn moon, Titan, Proba 3 - exploring the outer layer of the solar atmosphere, ExoMars2016 or JUICE - to the moons of Jupiter. Certain specializations such as: robotics, optoelectronics, microsatellite systems and the integration of small satellites or suborbital rockers are being developed within the country.
The recording of the Bigos 4 flight can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aJiJKennwWU.