Oct 1, 2018 | By Thomas

Stratolaunch revealed new details Sept. 27 about a rocket engine it is developing for use on future launch vehicles that will fly from it giant carrier aircraft.

Founded in 2011 by Paul G. Allen, Stratolaunch Systems Corporation believes in safeguarding Planet Earth for future generations. The PGA engine, its name taken from the initials of Stratolaunch’s founder, is a liquid oxygen and hydrogen engine with fuel-rich staged-combustion. Designed for air-launch from the Stratolaunch aircraft, the PGA is designed to produce 200,000 lb. thrust.

“With a 100 percent in-house design, the engine will support multiple configurations of Stratolaunch’s future in-house launch vehicles to provide customers a more affordable price-to-orbit for payload,” said the company. “The engine will improve technology development for the space industry, potentially enabling a more rapid cadence than current state-of-the-art tech.”

The hydrogen/oxygen engine will have the highest specific impulse of any rocket engine propellant, according to Stratolaunch. Compared to other fuels, the hydrogen/oxygen engine is more efficient, and will enable more payload-to-orbit and will offer more reusability.

The Stratolaunch propulsion team also revealed that they have prioritized the use of additive manufacturing for the development of its liquid rocket engine. About 85 percent of manufacturing process will take advantage of additive-manufacturing techniques. Additive manufacturing leads to rapid prototyping on a scale faster than traditional methods, allowing for new designs that are not possible with traditional manufacturing methods.

Stratolaunch is currently in the process of manufacturing and testing prototype subscale and full scale hardware. The team has completed ignitor development, with injector testing currently underway. Early testing of the PGA included hot fire tests of a sub-scale, 3D printed injector assembly. It plans to perform a full-scale preburner test by the end of 2018 at the test facility at the NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

Among the rockets due to use the PGA engine are Stratolaunch’s Medium Launch Vehicle (MLV) optimized for short satellite integration timelines, affordable launch and flexible launch profiles, which is capable of putting 7,500 pounds (3,400 kilograms) of payload into low Earth orbit and is in development with first flight in 2022; Medium Launch Vehicle – Heavy, a three-core MLV variant which is designed to carry 13,230 lb. (6,000 kg) to orbit; and the “Black Ice” space plane, which will be powered by three PGAs to carry a crew or a medium-class payload to orbit.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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