NASA succeeds in testing a 3D-printed Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine for 251 seconds while producing about 5,800 pounds of thrust

In the latest developments, NASA achieved major success in testing a novel, 3D-printed Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine (RDRE) for 251 seconds. This achievement marks a significant development in NASA’s efforts to develop the innovative propulsion system, the RDRE.

The test produced about 5,800 pounds of thrust. The 251-second fire test was conducted by engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. The RDRE’s first fire test was performed in the summer of 2022 at Marshall. The latest test which happened in fall 2023 has now received the above-mentioned success.

The motive of the latest test: According to Thomas Teasley, who leads the RDRE test effort, the latest test aims to understand how the combustor can be scaled to different thrust classes. Other aspects that the test aims to understand include:

  • Capabilities of supporting engine systems of all types
  • Maximizing the variety of missions it can serve, from landers to upper-stage engines to supersonic retro propulsion
  • Deceleration technique which can land larger payloads or even humans on the surface of Mars

The kind of sustained burn that the latest test achieved holds the capability of emulating requirements for a lander touchdown or a deep-space burn, which can set a spacecraft on course from the Moon to Mars.

Know more about the RDRE here. 

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