March 28, 2023


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The engine of the future passed the first successful tests at NASA

| Astronomy/Physics

NASA engineers built and tested the first full scale Rocket engine with rotating detonation (RDRE – Rotary Detonation Rocket Engine). This type of propulsion could be the future of spaceflight. Thanks to him, rockets will be lighter, less cumbersome and consume less fuel. Just three years ago A mathematical model of such an engine and a small prototype were created, which allowed the engineers to start testing the machine.

A conventional rocket engine gets thrust by burning fuel and expelling it from the back. The rotary detonation engine consists of concentric cylinders with fuel flowing between them. stay lit there. There is a rapid release of heat in the form of a shock wave. It is a powerful pulse of gases at high temperature and pressure that travels faster than the speed of sound. While conventional engines use many components responsible for directing and controlling the combustion reaction, in RDRE engines they are not essential. Driven by the combustion process, the shock wave naturally moves through the chamber, igniting successive portions of fuel. This is a very fast process that can result in more thrust while using less fuel.

NASA just announced last year’s RDRE engine test results. Turned it on a few times and worked for about 10 minutes. The purpose of the test was to see if individual components could withstand extreme temperatures and pressure for extended periods of time.

When running at full power, the engine produced nearly 18 kN of thrust for about a minute, which is nearly 400 times less than the F-1, the most powerful single-chamber liquid-propellant engine in history, that once powered the Saturn V, the most powerful rocket in history. The average pressure in the combustion chamber was 4.2 MPa. This is the highest compression value ever achieved in this type of engine.

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Successful RDRE tests allow NASA to consider using this technology in the future. Currently, engineers are working on a reusable RDRE that will generate 44.5 kN of thrust. It will be used for tests comparing this type of construction with engines currently in use.

RDRE rocket engine with rotary detonation