NASA engineers managed to successfully test fire a 3D-printed Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine (RDRE) at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama for 251 seconds, generating more than 5,800 pounds of thrust.
This test fire simulated the typical requirements for a lander touchdown or a deep-space burn that could eventually set a spacecraft on course from the Moon to Mars. It also helped engineers better understand how to scale the combustor to different thrust classes, supporting engine systems of all types and maximizing the variety of missions it could possibly be used for.
The RDRE enables a huge leap in design efficiency. It demonstrates we are closer to making lightweight propulsion systems that will allow us to send more mass and payload further into deep space, a critical component to NASA’s Moon to Mars vision,” said Thomas Teasley, Combustion Devices Engineer at NASA.