Special historical by Gorune Assarian and Virginie Daldalian
In November 1960, a group of Haigazian College students got together under the guidance of Manoug Manougian (a Math and Physics instructor) to form the Haigazian College Rocket Society (HCRS).
With an initial budget of 750 Lebanese pounds donated by the late deputy Emile Bustani, the members of the HCRS: Simon Aprahamian, Garabed Basmadjian, Hampartsum Karageuzian, Hrair Kelechain, Michael Ladah and John Tilkian, set out to prepare single and multistage solid fuel rockets.
Aspects of the first single stage rocket were assigned to each student. As a result of the lack of required equipment, the group was obliged to resort to flight testing without any fuel tests in the laboratories. After a number of failures, the project was crowned with success.
In April 1961, a single stage solid propellant rocket was Launched and reached an altitude of about one kilometer. With further improvements of the solid fuel system, a similar rocket called HCRS-3 was Launched all the way up to 2 000 m.
The Lebanese President, Fouad Chehab, as a result of these experiments, met with the members of HCRS and granted financial assistance for the project (10 thousand LL for 1961 and 15 thousand LL for 1962).
During the academic year 1961-1962, the society worked on two stage rockets with further improvements of the separation system, solid fuel system, and Vehicle design. On May 25, 1962, HCRS-7 Cedar was Launched up to 11 500 m, and the Lebanese Army was responsible for the security of the launch. In the summer of 1962, two more rockets, Cedar ll B and Cedar ll c, Were Launched to a distance of 20km.
Due to the successes of the HCRS new members joined and a new group was formed in 1962, it was called the Lebanese Rocket Society (LRS).
The LRS was directed by a main committee of six members: Mr. M. Manougian of Haigazian College (Director), Dr. P. Mourad of AUB (advisor), Mr. Karamanougian of Haigazian college, Mr.J. Sfeir (Electronic engineer), Mr, E. Kai (Engineer geodesist), and an officer expert in ballistics (granted by the Army). Further tests were planned on design and construction of multistage rockets. Mr. Hart supervised the works of the HCRS while Mr. Manougian was in the U.S.A. Members of the HCRS at the College were: Hampartzum Karaguezian, Hrair Aintablian, Hrair Sahagian, Jirair Zenian, and Jean Jack Guvlekjian.
On November 21, 1962 Cedar-3, a three stages solid propellant rocket prepared by the Haigazian group was launched. It had a length of 6.80 m and weight of 1250kg.
After several other lauchings, an accident occurred during the summer of 1964, which hospitalized 2 students who fortunately recovered. However, the Launchings were ended then, and no “big bang” has taken place since. The outcome of these experiments was not a Haigazian student walking on the moon, but more students walking into Haigazian’s admissions office. One has to realize that nowadays, after the Lebanese civil wars, the idea of a rocket is not very pleasing, but back in the 60s when both the U.S.and the U.S.S.R. were trying to reach the moon, HU was also on track. The fact that a group of students got together with their faculty and created something so new and fascinating for the first time in the region is very admirable. Today, as HU students, events like these encourage us to live up to our potentials, because, The Sky is the Limit.
A reproduction of a 1964 postage stamp produced by the Lebanese postal service to commemorate the 21st anniversary of Lebanese Independence. Depicted is one of HU’s Cedar rockets.