KUCHING: Borneo SubOrbitals, a public-private venture involving several tertiary institutions and a local social enterprise, is planning to launch a hybrid rocket from Sarawak within the next three years.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas), Universiti Malaya (UM) and Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with The Learning Curve (TLC) to research, develop and launch an educational hybrid (solid fuel–liquid oxidizer) rocket on a sub-orbital trajectory from Sarawak by 2021.
The other signatories were The Hills Lifestyle Community Lifestyle Hub and Strand Aerospace Malaysia.
Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil was present to witness the signing ceremony in Kuching yesterday in his capacity as the programme’s ambassador.
TLC founder and the Borneo SubOrbitals project manager Kenneth Chai said the project is aimed at promoting interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) among students and also part of National STEM Initiative’s events during school holiday breaks.
He explained that every June, students will take part in Blast Off One events where they can gradually contribute to the project before seeing the design take off into the sky in 2022.
“As this is an education programme, the rocket will be gradually developed with help of our students. UTP, the university where I graduated from, will be running simulations and electronics design.
“UM faculty of science will be running static and dynamic structural analysis and material selection for the rocket.
“And finally, the rocket will be manufactured and assembled here in Sarawak by Unimas faculty of engineering under the consultancy and supervision of Strand Aerospace Malaysia,” he said.
According to him, the rocket will be launched on a 55km (altitude) suborbital trajectory.
“The hybrid rocket, equipped with sensors and telecommunication devices, will travel on a sub-orbital path before landing back in the ocean, sending back valuable visuals, atmospheric and ocean data, and climate change information for researchers and Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (Mestecc),” he added.
Meanwhile, Fahmi said he welcomed such idea to build a rocket and launch it from Sarawak.
He also said he had shared the idea with Malaysia’s first astronaut Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor who had told him that there are several locations in Malaysia suitable for rocket launch.
As one of the 10 per cent of Malaysian MPs who are aged below 40, he said such idea excited him and fellow young MPs as this is the way forward for the country.
“The best part of this initiative is the involvement of young Malaysians.
“This initiative will definitely inculcate greater curiosity among the younger generation, and inspire them to be more interested in STEM.
“I would like to suggest that we should hold a showcase (on this initiative) at the Parliament,” he said.
[Source: “Parties sign MoU on educational hybrid rocket” published by BorneoPost Online]