Kedah Rocketry Group, an amateur rocketry group based in the state of Kedah in Northwest Malaysia, announced yesterday that it will launch Boleh 3 (B3), an indigenous reusable suborbital rocket, in the first quarter of 2019.
According to the group’s Facebook page, B3’s engines are currently being shipped from China, and will be assembled soon. The rocket’s architecture has been fixed – it will be an electric-powered fan rocket, using 2 to 3 low-cost electric duct fans, and will have fins enabling controlled descent and landing, modelled after SpaceX and Blue Origin.
B3 aims to cater to scientific communities, as well as Malaysia in general, by providing 30 seconds of Zero-G for experiments. A preliminary design, published in July this year, said that the rocket will be able to carry a 3U Cubesat payload, and will be equipped with multiple external and internal bay cameras.
The rocket will also demonstrate new algorithms, including launch and landing algorithms as well as Reinforcement Learning, a form of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which will teach the rocket to fly and land by itself.
B3 will be the fourth rocket in the Boleh series of rockets, following Boleh Mini, Boleh 1, and Boleh 2 (B2). B2, which has a launch mass of 40kg and a top speed of 550 km/hour, was successfully tested on 12 January 2014 in the USA, where it received a Level 3 high-power certification flight on a CTI M1400 motor, in accordance with the Tripoli Rocketry Association’s rules.
The Boleh series is the brainchild of aerospace engineer Tan Zu Puayen, who joined KRG in 2012. KRG was formed in 2009 by students from Politeknik Sultan Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah (POLIMAS) to support rocketry and science activities in Malaysia, as well as to cultivate science in Malaysia in order to achieve technological independence. In 2010, KRG successfully launched its first rocket, the XR-1, which was a successful demonstration mission although the rocket landed in the sea and was not recovered. The group has conducted multiple flights since.