Ateneo de Davao rocketeers successfully launch ‘Sibol’ in Spaceport America Cup

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DAVAO CITY -- The Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) rocketry team achieved a historic milestone on Saturday, June 22, after successfully launching a rocket named “Sibol” at the Spaceport America Cup in New Mexico, United States.

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THE ADDU rocketry team. 

The team is the first from the Philippines to participate in the Intercollegiate Rocket Engineering Competition (IREC) from June 17 to 22. Around 1,700 students from 200 universities from the US and 20 other countries participated in the event.

Overcoming weather hitch, the 9.7-foot rocket reached an altitude of 10,000 feet, carrying an 8.8-pound payload, which Spaceport USA directors said is an outstanding achievement for the first-time team. 

It was described as a remarkable achievement in Philippine aerospace technology and innovation.

Dr. Rogel Mari D. Sese, chairperson of the ADDU ASE Department and the ADDU Rocketry Team lead advisor, said the rocket, which competed in the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) 10,000 category, was recovered safely from the field.

“It was a clean and powerful launch from an M2100 motor,” said Rodion M. Herrera, a rocket enthusiast and a former college faculty member at the ADDU, in a statement. He expressed satisfaction that the rocket originated from Davao City.

ADDU is the only university in Mindanao that offers a Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Engineering (ASE). It is also the only Philippine school that sent a team to compete with the universities from other countries.

Spaceport America Cup is a design-build-fly competition and an academic conference for aerospace students, faculty members, and industry stalwarts. It is based in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

The video of Sibol's successful launch was a highlight of the University President's Address at the ADDU College Commencement Exercises at the university's Jacinto Campus in Davao City on Saturday. One-thousand, three-hundred students graduated.

Sese said the ASE students and faculty team had been working hard to qualify for the competition. He assured that they would continue developing better rockets and other space technologies that could contribute to academic research and improve society and humanity. 

Rev. Fr. Karel S. San Juan said that the ADDU’s humble contribution to space technology development is crucial in pursuing sustainable development goals. He added that the historic competition is just the beginning for ADDU, Mindanao, and the Philippines.

The Philippine team thanked the Philippine Airlines, the city government of Davao, and US-based Filipino organizations for their unsparing support for the team which is currently in Los Angeles, California after a 16-hour ride from Las Cruces, New Mexico. They will be home in Davao City on June 27.