THE WORLD’S first 3D-printed rocket Vulture 2 will be launched by a Southampton University team this autumn with sponsorship from Scottish-led technology firm EXASOL, it was announced today.
It will take off from Virgin Galactic’s Spaceport America base in New Mexico and is due to reach nearly 90,000ft - three times higher than passenger jets.
The Low Orbit Helium Assisted Navigator project craft will be lifted from the ground by a helium balloon, with the rocket motor firing when it reaches 12 miles high (20,000m), taking it to 15.6 miles up (25,000m).
Vulture 2 - known as a stratospheric drone - will then glide back to Earth by autopilot.
It was designed by students at Southampton University using industrial-scale 3D printing equipment.
Lester Haines, head of technology website The Register’s special projects bureau, which is leading the project, said: “Without doubt, this is the most complicated amateur high-altitude mission ever undertaken.”
Mr Haines, who holds the Guinness World Record for the highest launch of a paper aeroplane, said: “We’ve spent four years, thousands of hours and quite a bit of cash overcoming numerous technical challenges, and we’re delighted that EXASOL has come on board for the grand finale.”
Aaron Auld, EXASOL’s Scottish-born chief executive, said: “When we heard about The Register’s plan to launch the Vulture 2, we thought it was only fitting that the world’s fastest in-memory analytic database, EXASolution, should support this fascinating venture.”