Successful Italian sounding rocket flight test

Mar 27, 2022

On February 24, 2022, the first flight test of an innovative sounding rocket for access-to-space applications for small satellites was successfully performed.

The sounding rocket was launched from the Poligono Interforze of Salto di Quirra (PISQ) in Sardinia, within the project Aviolancio, coordinated by the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) and the Italian Airforce (AMI), and the hybrid propulsion was developed from Technology for Propulsion and Innovation (T4i) in collaboration with the University of Padua, showcasing the excellence that can be achieved when institutions, academia, and industry put their strengths together for a shared goal.

The aim of the project is to drastically improve the access to space for small satellite platforms through the development of a small launcher that could be released from an aircraft, resulting in frequent and affordable flight opportunities for NewSpace stakeholders.

The core of the project is the innovative hybrid propulsion system. The technology comes from more than 15 years of research at University of Padua. The specific system is under  development since 2014 within an international cooperation program led by T4i.

This hybrid propulsion system is re-ignitable, flexible, and sustainable since  fed with green propellants. Furthermore, the cost and safety features of this technology allow to iterate quickly and economically during the development phase, to implement the newest production technologies, to ease the procedures and the safety constraints during the operations at launch site, and finally in the perspective of future micro-launcher to drastically reduce costs of access to space

The first test conducted in February was extremely successful and the measured performances exceeded the expected ones. The parabolic flight was only the first fundamental step of the project.

But now let’s listen to the behind-the-scenes story from our Sounding Rocket team!

“The two weeks prior to the launch were really pressing, there was not a single moment when we could get bored: as soon as we had solved a problem, there was immediately a new one even more complex than the previous one!” said Matteo Fagherazzi. “But our fantastic team was super focused on the goal, and was able to successfully overcome all of the incredible challenges making finally an historic launch!” added Lorenzo Cappellini.

On the day of the flight test, after a final check of the rocket, the team headed to the control room to watch the launch. As soon as the countdown was over and the rocket lifted off the launch pad, there was no way to contain the joy of the whole team. This great achievement contains over eight years of constant research and development, with over 500 tests performed at different scales, but above all the hard work of a determined team.

The motto of the mission was “Omnia praeclara rara” (all excellent things are rare), to celebrate the uniqueness and the strength of a team, that with absolute determination and commitment surmounted every obstacle.