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May 27, 2024

NASA has announced that its engineers have developed and tested the agency’s first full-scale Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine (RDRE).

The agency said the design could significantly change how future propulsion systems are built. Using detonation technology, supersonic rocket engines are designed to produce more power while using less fuel than today’s propulsion systems.

It has the potential to power human landers and interplanetary vehicles to deep space destinations like the moon or Mars.

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Rotating detonation rocket engine, or RDRE heat test at Marshall Space Flight Center.
(NASA)

The engine fired more than a dozen times during tests at Marshall Space Flight Center’s East Test Area in Alabama.

NASA says the engine achieves its main goal by proving that its hardware can operate for extended periods of time while also withstanding the extreme heat and pressure environment created by the explosion. At full speed, the RDRE produces more than 4,000 pounds of thrust for nearly a minute at an average chamber pressure of 622 pounds per square inch. This is the highest pressure rating ever recorded for the design.

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Of note, there is also the successful performance of deep throttle and internal ignition.

Rotating detonation rocket motor

Rotating detonation rocket motor
(NASA)

“This successful demonstration brings the technology closer to being used with future vehicles, enabling NASA and commercial space to transfer more payloads and masses to deep space destinations, which is the key to making space exploration more sustainable.” An important part of sex,” NASA said.

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As a result of recent success, engineers are conducting additional work to develop a fully reusable 10,000-pound-class RDRE to determine performance advantages over conventional liquid rocket engines.



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