Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine: NASA’s Revolutionary Propulsion Design for Deep Space Missions – SciTechDaily
As NASA takes its first steps toward establishing a long-term presence on the Moon’s surface, a team of propulsion development engineers at NASA have developed and tested NASA’s first full-scale rotating detonation rocket engine, or RDRE, an advanced rocket engine design that could significantly change how future propulsion systems are built.
The RDRE differs from a traditional rocket engine by generating thrust using a supersonic combustion phenomenon known as a detonation. This design produces more power while using less fuel than today’s propulsion systems and has the potential to power both human landers and interplanetary vehicles to deep space destinations, such as the Moon and Mars.
Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, and primary collaborator IN Space LLC, located in West Lafayette, Indiana, are confirming data from RDRE hot fire tests conducted in 2022 at Marshall’s East Test Area. The engine was fired over a dozen times, totaling nearly 10 minutes in duration.
The RDRE achieved its primary test objective by demonstrating that its hardware – made from novel additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, designs and processes – could operate for long durations while withstanding the extreme heat and pressure environments generated by detonations. While operating at full throttle, the RDRE produced over 4,000 pounds of thrust for nearly a minute at an average chamber pressure of 622 pounds per square inch, the highest pressure rating for this design on record.