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Ray Wilkinson is the Aerospace Group Leader at the University of Hertfordshire, and teaches a number of aerospace subjects, including aerospace design, reliability engineering and rocket propulsion. He is currently in the final stages of a PhD in hybrid rocket combustion, and is a director of Spacefleet, a space-tourism company. Ray set up a rocket motor test cell, and the rocketry laboratory at the University, running a range of projects and extra-curricular rocketry activities with students. Students from the University have built and tested a rocket sled that reached over 1200mph on one-third of a second, and built a rocket-powered sports car for a BBC programme in only five weeks. He is also a keen amateur rocketeer, having made over a hundred flights, many to several thousand feet. Ray has been involved in a variety of rocket-related TV features for programmes including Bang Goes the Theory, Scrapheap Challenge, Mission Implausible and a forthcoming series on Channel 5 called Beat the Ancestors. His credibility with the students was vastly improved when his photo (with a rocket, of course) appeared on Have I Got News For You.

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Rocket propulsion

Saturday 18th May at 3.30pm

This talk and its accompanying demonstration discuss the science of rockets, describing the types of rocket motor, how they are used and how they work. From the chemistry of propellants to Newton’s laws of motion, some of the amazing facts about what happens inside and outside a rocket motor are described. Subject to weather and location, the talk will be followed by a demonstration of explosives and propellants, with a rocket flight if possible.

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