NASA Tests First Full-Scale Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine

Engineers have tested NASA’s first full-scale rotating detonation rocket engine (RDRE). The next-generation design could power humanity’s next phase of deep space exploration. Engineers conducted the hot fire test at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Alabama. 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 to the Moon and Mars. The engine was fired over a dozen times, totaling nearly 10 minutes in duration. 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.