TALA, the first high-powered hybrid rocket developed in the Philippines, was successfully launched at 11:57 AM on May 20, 2023 from Crow Valley Gunnery Range, Capas, Tarlac. It was able to deploy its Can Satellite payload before going into fast descent and eventual deployment of its main parachute for safe landing.
Developed by homegrown space technology researchers, students, and their mentors from St. Cecilia’s College-Cebu in 2018, the TALA rocket is the first high-power hybrid rocket developed in the Philippines made from 3D-printed advanced composite materials. The rocket, measuring 10 feet and weighing 15 kilograms, was developed under the Young Innovators Program of the Philippine Council for Industry, Energy, and Emerging Technology Research and Development (DOST-PCIEERD).
Among the features of the TALA rocket are flight sensors, a GPS, a dual parachute deployment, and a payload system to bring a Can Satellite (CanSat) up to approximately 5 kilometers into the atmosphere: “CanSats are simulated satellites the size of soda cans developed and used in educational settings to remotely gather environment data through built-in sensors. Researchers in the country deploy CanSats through drones. Sending CanSats to higher altitudes via hybrid-propellant rockets is a cost-effective way to further enrich space R&D in the country,” Almida Plarisan, one of the TALA rocketry team mentors explains.
TALA was supposed to have been launched in March 2020 from Mati City Airport, Davao Oriental but had to be postponed indefinitely due to the pandemic. It was eventually rescheduled to launch on May 18, but was again postponed due to unfavorable environmental conditions at the time. Last Saturday’s launch marks the success of the project. The Philippine Space Agency and the TALA team, in collaboration with the Philippine Air Force through the Philippine Air Force Research and Development Center, have been jointly working on the renewed preparations for the launch at Colonel Ernesto Rabina Airbase (CERAB) or Crow Valley in Tarlac City since 2022.
The rocketry team of TALA has retrieved the rocket body and is now working on the collection and analysis of launch data to determine the rocket flight details. As a hybrid rocket, TALA used both solid fuel and liquid oxidizer, which makes handling, shipping, and storage much safer. The manufacturing cost is also lower.
The TALA launch caps the Space Technology Applications Exhibit and schools tour of PhilSA in Tarlac.