UCT smashes water rocket record

Rocket team members Donovan Changfoot, Stuart Swan, William Liw Tat Man and Arnaud Malan pose before take-off. (UCT)
Rocket team members Donovan Changfoot, Stuart Swan, William Liw Tat Man and Arnaud Malan pose before take-off. (UCT)

Cape Town – A team from the University of Cape Town has broken a long-standing water rocket record.

The new record of 830m surpassed the eight year-old record of 623m set by US Water Rockets and the achievement was ratified by Water Rocket Achievement World Record Association on Wednesday.

The team created a 2.68m rocket with computer controller weighing in at 1.5kg for the record attempt. The rocket achieved 550km/h in 0.5 seconds.

The project started in 2013 with undergraduates Stuart Swan and Donovan Changfoot, but though the first launch attempt reached 600m, the carbon-fibre tube leaked air, nullifying any record attempt.

Ascension II was launched in December of 2014, but failed on take-off.

But the team took the lessons from failure to successfully deploy Ascension ΙΙΙ on August 26 in Elandsberg in the Western Cape.

Research group supervisor Professor Arnaud Malan could not contain his glee.

“The competition is truly multidisciplinary in nature and requires pushing state-of-the-art technology in areas ranging from mechanical design and lean manufacture to computer-based mathematical modelling. It is like the Olympics of water rocketry and pits us against the best and brightest in the world. Clearly, we are now the undisputed best of the best,” he said.

He told Fin24 that the team was eyeing future plans, but couldn’t elaborate.

“We are working on potentially a next level where we want take this to, but we are a little bit sensitive.”

Watch video of the rocket here:

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