NASA announced that its engineers had developed and tested the agency The first full-scale rotary detonation rocket engine (RDRE).
The agency said the design could dramatically change how future propulsion systems are built. The supersonic rocket engine uses detonation, the design producing more power while using less fuel than current propulsion systems.
It has the ability to power both human landers and interplanetary vehicles to deep space destinations, such as Moon or Mars.
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The engine was fired more than a dozen times during testing at Alabama’s headquarters Marshall Space Flight Center’s eastern test area.
NASA said the engine achieved its primary goal by demonstrating that its hardware could operate for extended periods of time while withstanding the extreme heat and pressure environments created by detonations. At full throttle, the RDRE produced more than 4,000 pounds of thrust for about a minute at an average chamber pressure of 622 psi. This is the highest compression ratio ever for this design.
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Notably, there was also the successful performance of both Deep Throttle and Internal Ignition.
“This successful demonstration brings the technology closer to being used with future flying vehicles, enabling NASA and Commercial Space To carry more payload and mass to deep space destinations, a key component to making space exploration more sustainable.”
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Given this recent success, engineers are conducting additional work to develop a fully reusable 10,000-pound RDRE class to determine performance advantages over conventional liquid rocket engines.
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