The completed solid rocket designed and made by Liu Shang. (Photo: youth.cn)
Recently, a video featuring the successful launch and recovery of a homemade solid rocket has gone viral on the Chinese video streaming platform Bilibili, where it was viewed 416,000 times in less than 24 hours. The same video released on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, has gone on to attract more than 8 million views.
The video's creator, and the rocket's designer, is 19-year-old Liu Shang, an aerospace engineering major at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, who has just completed his freshman year.
At around 96 centimeters high, 9.5 centimeters in diameter, and weighing 3.1 kilograms, the rocket was made by Liu in his spare time between online classes at home during the COVID-19 epidemic.
The video opens with the rocket positioned in an open field awaiting takeoff. After the countdown and engine ignition, the rocket lifts off and soars to a height of 190 meters before its parachute opens and it glides safely back to the ground.
Liu first had the idea of building his own rocket back in October. "I was inspired after seeing a thrust vector control rocket made by BPS.space. But it was just a rough idea then and there was a considerable amount I still had to learn," said Liu.
On Oct. 19, 2019, Liu released his first rocket-related video on Bilibili showing how he built the basic components of his rocket.
Originally, he had planned to stop there having not considered actually trying to launch it during the design. After completing the model, however, he decided to fit an engine and try to launch the rocket.
"It has been a long journey full of difficulties and challenges," Liu wrote at the time. "The project needs constant learning, exploration and attempts. As long as I keep going, one day I might succeed."
In more than half a year, through self-study and much discussion with fellow rocketeers, he finally launched his rocket skywards. In total, Liu uploaded 37 videos on Bilibili recording the entire process from design to takeoff.
"The rocket isn't at its peak performance just yet," Liu said, adding that he would continue to improve the algorithm. "My ultimate goal is to deliver packages via rocket."
The founder of BPS.space also watched the launch video, commenting: "Incredible, this is extraordinary work!"