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  • Writer's picturebidyut gogoi

NASA-funded rocket engine project propels space travel to new heights

NASA has given a researcher from the University of Central Florida $50,000 to develop the world's fastest rocket engine, an innovation that will undoubtedly change how people go to space in the future.

The revolutionary initiative will advance spinning detonation rocket technology. High-energy explosions are used in this kind of rocket engine to generate more energy while using less fuel, which dramatically improves engine efficiency and lowers the price and emissions of space travel.

The technique may also be used in aeroplanes, cutting the time it takes to fly across the Atlantic from hours to just a few minutes.

What is a rotating detonation rocket engine?

Constant Mach 5 explosions propel the revolving detonation rocket engine, which rotates inside the engine. Hydrogen and oxygen propellants, which are delivered into the system in precise quantities, drive these explosions.

Over five times the speed of sound, Mach 5 explosions produce energy bursts that move between 4,500 and 5,600 miles per hour. These powerful high-energy detonations may be used to create more energy while using less fuel.

This significantly increases engine efficiency, lowering hazardous emissions while increasing the cost-effectiveness of space flight.

What will the project involve?

The endeavour will be led by Kareem Ahmed, who for years has been researching rotating detonation rocket engines and is an associate professor in the University of Central Florida’s Department of Mechanical and Space Engineering.

The $50,000 funding will enable the team to develop a rotating detonation rocket engine replacement for the traditionally used RL10 engine that currently powers most space flights, such as the imminent Artemis missions.

Variants of the RL10 engine are also used in various launchers, including the Atlas V, Vulcan, and Orbital ATK OmegA. The researchers have already published a study proving the potential performance of the rotating detonation rocket engine.

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