Phil Vukovich - World Sugar Record

On 17th November 2013, NZRA member Phil Vukovich launched his sorbitol-powered two-stage rocket from Taupiri and is now claiming a new world sugar altitude record of 40,736 ft (=12,419.5 m).

This would eclipse the old record of 12.3 km set by a team of Dutch students at TU Delft in 2009. Well done, Phil!


9/16/2012 The team of Ken Biba, Casey Barker, Erik Ebert, Becky Green, Jim Green, David Raimondi, Tom Rouse and Steve Wigfield made a successful attempt to claim the Carmack Prize for an amateur flight above 100K`. Their flight on Tuesday 9/11/2012 reached 104,659′ AGL as verified by both the onboard Beeline GPS as well as APRS telemetry from the airframe that was streamed in real-time to the APRS database. The flight track for the sustainer is at KG6DLV-4 and the booster is KG6DLV-5 at The airframe is a two-stage, minimum-diameter design. Construction is primarily of commercially-available fiberglass components with carbon-laminated fins.

Architecture: Two stage minimum diameter – 4″ booster to 3″ sustainer Motors: Commercial motors. An AeroTech N1000W in the booster staging to the new AeroTech M685W in the sustainer. 25 seconds total burn time. Total impulse: 21,650 N-sec Length: 126″ Pad weight: 61 lbs Avionics: (Raven+RDAS, Beeline GPS (70cm APRS), GoPro2 + WiFi BacPac) replicated in booster and sustainer Payload: Smartphone+sensors with 2m APRS telemetry Launcher: 12′ rail

They flew at Black Rock, NV, during the AeroPac ARLISS and XPRS events, on September 11, 2012. They achieved full recovery of the airframe within 6 hours – both booster and sustainer.

The video shows the launch both from the ground camera, as well as from the onboard booster and sustainer HD cameras.


Von DeliusOn 16 August, 2012, Curt von Delius flying his state of the art JMAX has again set the new TRA certified single stage J class altitude record of 23,735’ AGL, eclipsing his previous record of 19,758’ by a full 20% or 3977’. The flight was made at AeroPac’s Aeronaut launch on August 3rd in the Black Rock Desert, NV.

This is his third attempt with the new design powered by an Aerotech J510W. “It all came together for this flight, perfect surface and winds aloft and a very straight boost”. “It’s great to have finally broken 20,000 feet with a J Class rocket, heck, nearly 24,000 feet!” von Delius said. “Amazingly, the actual altitude flight data was within 14’ feet of the simulations.”

The J510W burns for 2.37 seconds accelerating the JMAX to Mach 2.7 or just over 2000 miles per hour and pulling a max 80 gees. One veteran spectator commented “That rocket was honking out of the pad.”

The JMAX design is the culmination of Curt’s experience flying high impulse J class rockets, utilizing CAD designed carbon fiber, quartz fiber and lightweight CNC aluminum structures.



BigRed2011-craig launch 2 BigRed2011-craig launch

After no ignition on the first attempt, Big Red went on the second firing attempt. It was found that the leads from the remote firing system had been damaged from the previous Mongoose 98 exhaust plume. Changed out the units and had another countdown. The Central M1939W fired up with almost no delay and the rocket roared off the pad.

Just after it had cleared the tower, the two J800T blue thunder motors fired up instantly almost doubling the rockets initial thrust. Slow motion video shows the sudden speed increase. This event happened between 1 and 2 seconds after lift off-detect.

Big Red powered on for 7 seconds clearing the cloud deck and almost out of sight. At 8 seconds after liftoff a huge plume was seen and Big Red accelerated out of sight as a result of the two big K700W motors. Big Red made a very slight turn to the north due to this but was still very much vertical.

Big Red climbed for a further 10 seconds heading out over the cloud deck reaching a maximum altitude of 10,615 ft. For us on the ground we could only wait for the rocket to reappear on a chute. Sure enough it was seen to the north east on a bright orange drogue chute descending rapidly as planned. At 1500 ft the main chute deployed right on time and slowed Big Red down for landing.

BigRed2011-craig launch 3

Thanks to Alex’s beeline GPS, we had great communication throughout the flight. It took 2 hours to recover Big Red due to the maize paddock. This stuff eats rockets. Very hard to find without a GPS.BigRed2011-craig launch 4

Post recovery inspection has found a hairline crack in one fin. This was expected as its a big rocket and there’s a lot of force acting on a plywood based fin at landing. Its very easy to repair. No other damage found on the rocket. The recovery system worked as planned with no tangles evident. On the final approach Big Red hung under a 6 meter chute and about 15 metres of shock cord.


The Mongoose 98 of Joel Schiff & Martin Aspell was launched from the new tower built to accommodate any 3-fin rocket from 38mm to 150mm. The rocket took off on a N1000 motor with a great roar and the motor seemed to burn forever which helped keep the rocket in view.

M98-On launch pad2 

After 43 seconds, the M98 had coasted to apogee at 33,701 ft AGL, setting an NZ altitude record, but the drogue as well as the main chute deployed. This meant that the rocket would not come down as close to the launch site as anticipated, and to add to the challenge of locating it, the GSM tracker in the nose cone lost signal lock at 5300 m and then stopped phoning home its position.


After a few calculations, the recovery site was reduced to one particular farm 4.7 km away and much of it was searched on Sunday afternoon without success. It was eventually found by the farmer himself two days later very near to where we had been searching! There was no damage at all to the carbon fibre rocket, although the paint work on the edges of the fins got a bit frazzled from going mach 1.5.


Martin and Joel and now the current holders of the NZRA Open Class Altitude trophy…



…to Ethan Kosoof, Chris North, as well as Matt Graham for reaching the awesome altitude of 26,500 ft with their scratch-built carbon fiber rocket on Sunday, 6 Dec 2009 at the Taupiri launch site.


It was a beautiful launch from start to finish. Well done, fellas!


On 17 March 2009, 10:28 UTC, the student rocket Stratos was launched from the Swedish Esrange Space Center. The rocket, an amateur rocket developed by students from the Delft University of Technology in Holland, reached an altitude of 12551 m (= 41,167 ft). This is from now on considered as the new official record for European amateur rockets. The record was earlier held by the British amateur rocket society MARS, which launched a rocket to 10.7 km from Black Rock Desert in USA in 2000.

“Our rocket performed like a dream. Everything worked as planned, the two rocket stages ignited nominally and the impact was within the safety area”, says Mark Uitendaal, the Stratos project leader writing his thesis on this project.

The two-staged Stratos has been developed by a team of students from the faculty of Electrical and Aerospace Engineering, all members of the studentassociation Delft Aerospace Rocket Engineering (DARE). The purpose of the association is to involve students in the designing and launching of experimental rockets. Dutch Space, a space company located in Leiden, is the principle sponsor of Project Stratos.

Please note that ‘outer space’ is said to begin at an altitude of 100 km and the world record for a group of amateur rocketeers is 116 km set on 17 May 2004.