|Function||Orbital launch vehicle|
|Manufacturer||Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales|
|Country of origin||Argentina|
|Height||28 m (92 ft)|
|Diameter||2.5 m (8 ft 2 in)|
|Mass||67,000 kg (148,000 lb) (including propellant)|
|Payload to Polar|
|Mass||250 kg (550 lb)|
|Launch sites||Puerto Belgrano Naval Base|
|First flight||2020 (projected) |
|Thrust||3 × 30000 kg|
|Fuel||LOX / RP-1|
|Engines||1 other or T4R|
|Thrust||1400 to 4000 kg|
|Fuel||Monomethylhydrazine(MMH) / N|
Tronador (Spanish for Thunderer) is a series of Argentine rockets, including the Tronador I and Tronador II vehicles, to develop a liquid-propellant rocket expendable launch system called ISCUL (Inyector Satelital de Cargas Utiles Ligeras, Light Useful Payloads Satellite Launcher).
The Tronador I is an unguided liquid-fueled rocket used for sub-orbital spaceflight test flights. Its development led to the larger VEx test rocket, testing technologies needed for the Tronador II, which has a guidance system and would be capable of reaching low Earth orbit. Development of the satellite launch vehicle has cost more than 600 million dollars over several years.
The Tronador I (T1) vehicle was flown successfully on June 6, 2007 from Puerto Belgrano Naval Base near Bahía Blanca, in the south east of the Buenos Aires Province. This was the first flight of a technology demonstrator vehicle for the program.
This was the first cooperative test flight between Comisión Nacional de Actividades Espaciales and Brazilian Space Agency; it was successfully flown in December 2007 (Operacion Angicos). The payload built by CONAE, carried several experiments to validate subsystems for the program such as: IMU (Inertial Measurements Unit, that used IFOG's), GPS receptor (for navigation), all integrated into the on-board computer, and an attitude control system via cold-gas thrusters. The payload unit completed a suborbital flight carried by an AEB-built VS-30 solid-propellant rocket booster, and was then recovered from the sea after landing with parachutes.
Tronador II's maiden orbital launch is expected to fly in 2019, from Puerto Belgrano Naval Base.
As of June 2016, the proposed Tronador II configuration:
The initial proposal was for a 3-stage rocket. In early 2015, an evolved configuration was presented at the 52nd Committee on Peaceful Uses of Ultra-Terrestrial Space meeting and at the Punta Indio test launch pad.
The T4000 (Tronador T4000 pathfinder rocket) test rocket is related to the project, as it is the basis of the 3rd stage of the Tronador II. Specifically, it was intended to house the attitude control system (“Thrust Vector Control” - TVS). The first launch attempt in 2011 failed.
The recent strategy was to fly separately several suborbital experimental subsystems, called "VEx", before they are incorporated in the prototype of the Tronador II rocket. After a few launches, it was decided in 2017 to stop the experimental Vex series as enough data was obtained to go ahead with a prototype rocket.
In March 2014, a suborbital prototype named VEx-1A failed during launch from Pipinas, Punta Indio Partido. It had only one stage, weigh 2.8 tonnes, thrust of 4 ton, 60 seconds mission duration, expected apogee of 2 km. VEx-1A first launch attempt was postponed in December 2013 due to ground support equipment fail. The second attempt failed on February 26, 2014. It was discovered that the failure was caused by interferences between the launch pad and the rocket, which prevented the vehicle from elevating more than 2m off the ground. The engine control mechanism shut off the fuel valve, preventing an explosion, and the rocket fell down next to the pad.
The first flight of this suborbital vehicle was on 15 August 2014 from Pipinas, Punta Indio Partido. It successfully tested propulsion, control, and navigation subsystems. 2,200 m apogee, 27 seconds flight time. It landed in the sea assisted by the recovery parachutes. The vehicle was recovered and examined to determine whether further VEx-1 test rockets are required or if a VEx-2 flight should be implemented.
VEx-5A was a two stage suborbital rocket that was destroyed upon launch. The T-10 first stage is capable of producing 11t of thrust, while the T-4 second stage is capable of 4t of thrust. The rocket was 18 meters long and 1.5 meters diameter, with a total launch weight (including fuel) of 8500 kg. The rocket would have separated from the first stage (the propellants are liquid oxygen/RP-1) at 15 km altitude and the second stage would have continued, reaching up to 30 km altitude using hydrazine/nitric acid. The vehicle would have tested several technologies, new fuels, and for the first time, the separation of two stages rocket (mechanical and automatic aspects), and the ignition of the second stage in flight. The rocket was completed in mid 2015 and scheduled to launch in October 2015, and then November 2016. The test flight finally occurred on 21 April 2017, 18:00 local time from Pipinas, Punta Indio Partido. The rocket climbed up from its pad, but eight seconds later the first stage rocket engine shut down due to abrupt flow in its fuel lines. Several seconds later, the rocket fell and impacted the launch pad, causing a fiery explosion. The ill-fated launch was announced officially by CONAE several hours after the launch and footage from several angles were made available.
Test flight - two stage test rocket. First stage 30t thrust engine, second stage VEx-1 engine - it was projected for a 2019 launch from Puerto Belgrano Naval Base. The mission was cancelled in 2017.
The proposed Tronador III would have the same diameter as Tronador II, but would have a length of 34 metres (112 ft). The fueled rocket would weight 89 metric tons, and capable of delivering a ton of payload into polar orbit.
Decidimos interrumpir el desarrollo de los vehículos experimentales (la serie VEX) porque consideramos que con lo ya hecho no íbamos a aportar mucho más con otro experimental que lo que aportaría el modelo tecnológico.