Orbex showed the biggest rocket engine printed on a 3D printerFebruary 12, 2019
The British space company Orbex presented the second stage of its future two-stage rocket Prime.
The prototype, made of composite material, including carbon fiber and aluminum, is interesting because it has “the largest rocket engine in the world, made by 3D printing”.
The additive technology allegedly eliminated the need for joints and welds – the weak points of traditional engines, making the installation more resistant to extreme temperature and pressure drops.
Engineers intend to use biopropane as fuel for the engine, an environmentally friendly fuel from renewable sources that emits less than 90% of carbon dioxide when burning.
In addition, according to the developers, the use of composite materials made it possible to make the mass of the rocket 30% less, and its efficiency – 20% higher “in comparison with analogues”.
Supposedly, an ultra-light Prime class launch vehicle will be able to launch commercial mini-satellites and scientific cubsat with a total weight of up to 165 kg into Earth orbit up to 1,250 km. The first trial launch Orbex plans to produce in 2021 from the territory of the Scottish cosmodrome in Suserland (at the moment it is in the process of construction). If everything goes according to plan, the launch vehicle will put into orbit an experimental installation of the British satellite operator SSTL.
In addition to SSTL, the startup already has other customers: in particular, the Swiss Astrocast SA, which plans to deploy a global support network for Internet-things devices, consisting of 64 nanosatellites, and the Spanish Elecnor Deimos by 2023, which intends to implement using Prime up to 20 launches of own satellites (their exact number is not called).
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