As far as I know, Hybrid rocketry is limited to suborbital flights and amateur rocketry. I would like to know if there have been any rockets that made it into orbit, and what was the highest altitude a hybrid rocket has made it to?

This company is promising orbital access but I am unsure if the technology has already reached space and been demonstrated before. http://www.parabolicarc.com/2018/10/01/gilmour-space-raises-137-million-hybrid-launch-vehicle/

  • $\begingroup$ Solid fuel is used for amateur rockets, but hybrid rockets are difficult for amateurs. Do you ask for hybrid rockets or for solid fuel rockets? $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 14:45
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    $\begingroup$ There's no specific reason why hybrid rockets couldn't reach orbit - I bet it's their niche as "poor man's liquid fuel propulsion" is what made them uninteresting to the big players. Solid fuel engine technology matured sufficiently in niches it filled (missiles, boosters) that despite its shortcomings orbital launches were made. Hybrids never had this opportunity, so despite the advantages they are still "experimental" - similar to aerospike engines. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 15:11
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    $\begingroup$ Virgin Galactic's SpaceShip2 (and SpaceShip1) are use hybrid engines. As far as I know, no hybrid engines have been used on orbital launch vehicles. There are a few sounding rocket that have used them. $\endgroup$
    – phobos
    Commented Mar 5, 2019 at 19:25

2 Answers 2


Here is another future possibility to add to @CarlosN's thorough answer, though I don't have recent information.

Below is a BBC News report that covers both Taiwan's National Space Organization and a separate effort, the Advanced Rocket Research Center which at the time had done significant research on hybrid rocket engines.

ARRC's web page: https://www.arrc.tw/

YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ARRCRocketTaiwan/videos

News items in Taipei Times and Taiwan Today.

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks. Added to my watch list. Up to 117+ potential small orbital launch vehicles I'm following now. $\endgroup$
    – Carlos N
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 16:56

No. AS far as I know no hybrid propulsion rocket has ever been used for orbital launch.

Back in the 1990s AMROC tried but failed.

At least 7 companies that I'm aware of are dabbling with hybrid propulsion for orbital launch vehicles in various stages of development.

They include:

Of these Rocketcrafters, bluShift, Gilmour, and Equatorial I have in my main list of small launch vehicles under development, the others I'm watching closely.

Another recent entrant with potential for a hybrid has recently gone belly up:

Turns out that what they taught us in school about hybrids "simplicity of solids, performance of liquids" is not quite accurate. The systems are not nearly as simple as they appear.

I'd have to do a lot more research to figure out the highest a suborbital hybrid has gone, but I'm willing to bet it is likely the last flight of Spaceship-1 which reached 112 km.

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    $\begingroup$ I've heard that hybrids have thrust instabilities which make them unfavourable as they scale up. But I've not worked hands on or met someone who has, so I'm unaware if its true. $\endgroup$
    – Rajath Pai
    Commented Mar 6, 2019 at 15:03
  • $\begingroup$ To date about all rocket engine types in existence had thrust instabilities as they scaled up. A lot of very advanced science and engineering went into mitigating them in these which are in use currently. $\endgroup$
    – SF.
    Commented Mar 7, 2019 at 10:24

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