Fwd = Pulse detonation rocket engine testing begins at Marshall Centre
- Forwarded by: fwestra@...
Original Date: Mon, 1 May 2000 21:39:56 +0200
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Pulse detonation rocket engine testing begins at Marshall Centre
1 May 2000
Technology for a rocket engine that uses an automotive ignition
system to initiate supersonic combustion waves is being tested at
NASA's Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville in Alabama.
Component testing of a small-scale pulse detonation rocket engine
began in April.
Artist's impression of pulse detonation rocket engine
A spark plug is discharged to ignite hydrogen fuel in a small
initiator tube, about 4 inches long and half an inch in diameter.
The hot firings, which last 5 to 10 seconds, demonstrate pulse
detonation principles and help researchers evaluate engine
Following this month's successful testing of the initiator tube,
engineers finalised their design and started building a primary
tube, about 3 feet long and 2 inches in diameter, which will be
connected to the initiator tube. Using only a small amount of
spark energy, a detonation wave can be created in the initiator
tube and propagated into the larger primary tube where the main
propellants are burned at an extremely high rate.
Like automobile engines, pulse detonation rocket engines operate
by injecting fuel and oxidiser into long cylinders and igniting
the mixture with a spark plug. The explosive pressure of the
detonation pushes the exhaust out the open end of the cylinder,
providing thrust to the vehicle. Pulse detonation rocket engine
technology development could lead to lightweight, low-cost space
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