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UKZN Phoenix Hybrid Rocket Sets New African Record



UKZN Phoenix Hybrid Rocket Sets New African Record

UKZN Phoenix Hybrid Rocket Sets New African Record. The University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) has marked a historic achievement in aerospace engineering, as its students soar to new heights with the Phoenix hybrid rocket.

In a groundbreaking feat, the Phoenix rocket recently clinched the title of setting a new African altitude record, reaching an astounding 18 kilometers above ground level. This remarkable accomplishment, achieved in 2024, stands as a testament to UKZN commitment to innovation and excellence in scientific endeavors.

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Breaking Records

The Phoenix hybrid rocket soared to unprecedented heights, clinching a new African altitude record of 18 kilometers. This monumental achievement represents a quantum leap for amateur rocketry, nearly doubling the previous record and placing UKZN at the forefront of aerospace innovation on the African continent.

Notably, only two other universities worldwide have surpassed this altitude milestone with hybrid rockets, reaffirming UKZN’s position among the global elite in space exploration.

Engineering Excellence

Undoubtedly, the success of the Phoenix hybrid rocket owes much to the tireless dedication and expertise of UKZN’s student engineers. Months after the historic altitude record, these same rocket scientists unveiled another triumph – the Ablative Blow-Down Liquid Engine (ABLE) rocket engine.

Tested at the prestigious Overberg Test Range in the Western Cape, ABLE emerged as the second most powerful liquid rocket engine ever developed by a university team. Surpassing both European and American benchmarks, this achievement solidifies UKZN’s reputation as a trailblazer in propulsion technology.

Student Innovation

The genesis of ABLE can be traced back to the creative minds of mechanical engineering students enrolled in UKZN’s master’s and doctoral programs.

Their collaborative efforts and relentless pursuit of excellence culminated in the design and fabrication of ABLE, showcasing the transformative impact of hands-on learning and interdisciplinary collaboration at UKZN.


The unprecedented success of UKZN’s Phoenix hybrid rocket and the groundbreaking development of the ABLE rocket engine mark a defining moment in the university’s history. Beyond mere academic accomplishment, these milestones underscore UKZN unwavering commitment to fostering innovation, pushing the boundaries of scientific inquiry, and inspiring the next generation of aerospace pioneers.

As UKZN continues to reach for the stars, its legacy of excellence in space exploration will serve as a beacon of inspiration for generations to come.

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