TALA hybrid rocket

In the realm of space exploration, technological advancements continue to push the boundaries of human achievement. One such breakthrough originates from the Philippines, as the nation proudly introduces its first hybrid rocket named TALA. This remarkable creation signifies a significant leap forward for the country’s space program, opening doors to new possibilities and cementing its position on the global space exploration map. Let’s explore an exhilarating journey of TALA, exploring its design, capabilities, and the impact it holds for the Philippines and beyond.

A discreet hybrid rocket project was born out of a specific challenge: the need to launch small soda-can-sized satellites into the sky.

Christian Cantos, Avionics lead of the TALA project, explained the significance of CanSat (Can Satellites) as educational tools equipped with various sensors to collect environmental data. In the Philippines, researchers and learners employ drones alongside CanSats, which have altitude limitations. Cantos emphasized that these limitations greatly hinder the quantity and quality of data gathered by the CanSats.

To address this issue, the team devised a solution in the form of a “high-performance yet cost-effective hybrid rocket.” Its primary purpose is to deploy the CanSat when it reaches its maximum altitude or apogee, enable a safe descent with a recovery system, and utilize a hybrid propellant to generate sufficient thrust for liftoff.

In simpler terms, the team aimed to create a space vehicle capable of deploying CanSats at significantly higher altitudes.

Crafted from “advanced composite materials,” the TALA hybrid rocket stands at 10 feet tall and weighs 15 kilograms. It incorporates built-in sensors to monitor the launch vehicle’s flight dynamics, an onboard GPS system, a dual parachute deployment mechanism, and ample space to accommodate a CanSat at an altitude of approximately 4 to 5 kilometers. Based on their meticulous testing and simulations, the rocket can achieve supersonic speeds.

Embarking on this endeavor was no easy task, but what sets this hybrid rocket apart from conventional ones?

Joshua Pardorla, the team’s Propulsions lead and overseer of the rocket motor’s main operations, elucidated on the distinction. Unlike solid-propellant or liquid-propellant rockets, hybrid rockets employ a different propulsion system. They utilize two different phases of propellants: solid and gas/liquid. By separating the propellant and oxidizer, hybrid rockets ensure safe inert shipment, handling, maintenance, and storage.

In 2018, a separate team from St. Cecilia’s College-Cebu Inc. undertook a different space venture called the HAB LSS Karunungan. It involved a high-altitude balloon equipped with a life support system tailored for small passengers, specifically mice. However, compared to the HAB LSS Karunungan, the TALA project presented significantly greater challenges.

Constructing a hybrid rocket is much more demanding as every subsystem must be executed with precision, said by Joefer Capangpangan, the team’s Structural lead and a member of the supporting team for the HAB LSS Karunungan. Capangpangan, responsible for designing and developing the rocket’s primary structure, emphasized the importance of ensuring that the materials used in the rocket could withstand the rigors of the flight. Additionally, the team placed utmost priority on their safety throughout the rocket’s construction and launch. If one aspect fails, it will have a ripple effect on the entire system.

Dorothy Daffon, the Recovery lead, mentioned that the development of the hybrid rocket involved multiple stages and encountered various obstacles. She was responsible for the design and implementation of the rocket’s primary parachute and drogue chute, which is a specialized parachute used for deployment from a rapidly moving object to provide control, stability, or deploy a larger parachute.

The team collaborated closely throughout the crafting of the rocket, ensuring that all necessary preparations were completed before the launch. They also mentally prepared themselves to make critical decisions in real-time, including the possibility of canceling the launch if deemed necessary. Christian Cantos emphasized the complexity of rockets, stating that replicating or constructing an advanced rocket requires unwavering commitment and perseverance over months and even years due to the significant time investment involved.

One major challenge the team faced was the scarcity of resources in their province. To overcome this hurdle, they had to source raw materials from both local and foreign suppliers.

John Harold Abarquez, the ground support equipment (GSE) lead, highlighted the difficulty in anticipating various factors related to weather conditions, flight paths, and other critical aspects of the project. According to him, rocket science entails considering numerous variables, leaving no room for failure.


At the time of the interviews, the researchers involved in the project insisted on keeping the details of the rocket’s launch confidential. The team, led by research mentor Almida Plarisan, prioritized the safety of the student-researchers and everyone involved in the research. Their intention was to preserve the project’s scientific purpose and avoid any potential risks.

The students demonstrated remarkable self-restraint by refraining from sharing any updates that could compromise the team’s safety or the security of the project. Christian Cantos stressed the importance of safeguarding their research, as any unauthorized access to their findings could pose a significant danger not only to themselves but also to others.


As researchers, the team acknowledged the responsibility to consider not only their own well-being but also the potential impact on others. They recognized that the success or failure of their project could have broader implications.

Although the rocket project itself may not directly benefit Filipinos, its successful completion and launch hold the potential to advance the country’s space research capabilities. Joshua Pardorla emphasized the importance of catching up with space exploration, as the Philippines lags behind in this field. The data gathered from the project could prove valuable for future initiatives of the Philippine Space Agency (PhilSA) and contribute to the country’s progress in space exploration.


The dedication of the team members surpassed their physical limitations, as they remained fully committed to the project. Dorothy Daffon, driven by the honor and privilege of being part of the team, pushed through exhaustion to ensure the successful completion of their mission, a sentiment shared by the entire team.

The experience of working on the project has ignited a passion for space science among the students, inspiring them to consider pursuing careers in the field. John Harold Abarquez, delighted to contribute to the space community, now views aeronautical engineering as a potential career path. Joshua Pardorla, the younger member of the team, expressed his gratitude for being involved in such a significant project within the realm of Pinoy space science. He described it as a great honor and an invaluable experience.

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