HAL5's Project HALO


After the success of ISDC 1993 here in Huntsville, HAL5 began its biggest project ever in 1994, Project HALO (for "High-Altitude Lift-Off"). The goals of the project are no less than to provide cheap access to space for small clubs and student groups. We selected a hybrid propulsion system. Hybrid rockets operates by burning solid with liquid oxidizer. They can be throttled, and shut off and restarted in flight.

On May 11, 1997, HAL5 made amateur rocketry history when it successfully performed its first hybrid rockoon mission, dubbed Sky Launch 1. We launch SL-1 from a grass strip airfield just north of Hampstead, North Carolina, about a mile west of Topsail Beach. The balloon was over 50,000 feet above the Atlantic Ocean when the rocket was fired. The HALO SL-1 rocket ascended to approximately 36 nautical miles. HALO that day conducted the world's first high altitude ignition of a hybrid rocket. It is the highest flight of a hybrid rocket at that time. That day, HAL5 proved to the world that small groups can accomplish great things and made space a little closer to all of us.

The record made the 2000 Guinness Book of World Records under Amateur Rocketry. Due to avionics glitches, no accurate altitude was recorded. However, Greg Allison (former Project HALO Manager) indicated that the balloon's camera showed the curvature of the earth and "black sky," Some believed we were a lot higher than 36 miles. HAL5's record stood until 2004 when Civilian Space eXploration Team (CSXT) achieved 72 miles.

SL-1 and subsequent attempt of SL-2, and indirect involvement with Space Frontier Foundation - CATS Prize, peeked interests in a lot of folks. If high altitude ignition and hybrid rocket sounds familiar, well, it should. HAL5 did not invent rockoon or hybrid rocket, but we took the ideas, combined them, and made it more interesting.

Over the years, HAL5 has tested a lot of hybrid motors. We experienced failures and set backs along the way. In the end, we are about learning and trying new ideas. We have inspired and helped others to pursuit a more lofty goal. Some of us even dabber at a hybrid power rocket bikes and then some in our spare time.

Things are kind of slow at the rocket workshop nowaday. We are still working on our next hybrid rocket. It is a derivative of the old ARCAS sounding rocket that we dubbed Tube Launch 1 (TL-1). As well as a small liquid rocket and a homemade turbojet during our weekly worknight. Well. Like all engineers, we love to try new things. We are back at the drawing board and will be re-re-start, hopefully 3rd time is a charm, our Project HALO amateur rocket. We will be doing some design of concept and pathfinder tests in the next 6 to 12 months. So stay tuned!

For additional information about Project HALO, meeting location, and tax-deductible donations, please .