NASA validates revolutionary propulsion design for deep space missions
As NASA takes its first steps toward establishing a long-term presence on the Moon’s surface, a team of propulsion development engineers at NASA have developed and tested NASA’s first full-scale rotating detonation rocket engine, or RDRE, an advanced rocket engine design that could significantly change how future propulsion systems are built.
The RDRE differs from a traditional rocket engine by generating thrust using a supersonic combustion phenomenon known as a detonation. This design produces more power while using less fuel than today’s propulsion systems and has the potential to power both human landers and interplanetary vehicles to deep space destinations, such as the Moon and Mars.
Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and primary collaborator IN Space LLC, located in West Lafayette, Indiana, are confirming data from RDRE hot fire tests conducted in 2022 at Marshall’s East Test Area. The engine was fired over a dozen times, totaling nearly 10 minutes in duration.
The RDRE achieved its primary test objective by demonstrating that its hardware – made from novel additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, designs and processes – could operate for long durations while withstanding the extreme heat and pressure environments generated by detonations. While operating at full throttle, the RDRE produced over 4,000 pounds of thrust for nearly a minute at an average chamber pressure of 622 pounds per square inch, the highest pressure rating for this design on record.
The RDRE incorporates the NASA-developed copper-alloy GRCop-42 with the powder bed fusion additive manufacturing process, allowing the engine to operate under extreme conditions for longer durations without overheating.
The test achieved several milestones, including successful deep throttling and internal ignition. This demonstration brings the technology closer to being used in future flight vehicles, enabling NASA and commercial space companies to transport more payload and mass to deep space destinations. This is crucial for making space exploration more sustainable. NASA engineers are now conducting follow-up work to develop a fully reusable 10,000-pound class RDRE to identify performance benefits over traditional liquid rocket engines.
NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com
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NASA, Boeing teams achieve milestone ahead of crewed flight
Houston TX (SPX) Jan 23, 2023
NASA and Boeing recently completed a full start to finish integrated mission dress rehearsal for the company’s CST-100 Starliner flight with astronauts to the International Space Station, which is scheduled to launch in April 2023.
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