The G-70 orbital-class rocket engine, developed by Gilmour Space Technologies, has successfully achieved 70,000 Newtons (15,700 pounds-force) of thrust in what could be the world’s largest successful test fire of a single-port hybrid rocket engine, claims the company in the press release.
“These results prove that we have the core technology needed to enable low-cost small satellite launches to space,” said its CEO & Founder, Adam Gilmour. The company’s mission is to carry payloads weighing up to 400 kg to low earth orbit (LEO) from 2020.
Unlike the vast majority of commercial rockets today, which use either solid- or liquid-fuelled engines, Gilmour Space says that it is pioneering new hybrid-engine rockets that combine a liquid oxidiser with a proprietary multi-material 3D printed solid fuel. The Queensland-based company first made headlines in 2016 when it successfully test launched a subscale rocket to an altitude of 5km using its 3D printed rocket fuel.
“We chose hybrid rockets because they’re simpler, cheaper, environmentally greener and a lot less explosive than solid or liquid rockets,” said Gilmour. “But hybrids have been notoriously difficult to scale up, resulting in a relatively poor engine efficiency and performance,” he added.
“With this and our earlier tests, Gilmour Space has demonstrated capability in what could be the largest (46 cm diameter) successful test fire of a single-port hybrid rocket engine.” Single port engines are believed to be the most fuel-efficient design for hybrid rockets.
Other key results:
- Peak thrust of 70 kN (15,700 pounds)
- High level of thrust stability
- Ability to throttle from 10% to 100%
“This G-70 engine will be powering our next Australia-made rocket to the edge of space in the second quarter of 2018, subject to launch approvals in Australia,” said Gilmour.