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Launcher demonstrates full-scale burn of its 3D Printed Rocket Engine

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Launcher E-2 3D printed rocket engine testing at NASA
Above: Launcher E-2 thrust chamber assembly on its test stand at NASA Stennis Space Center/Image Source: Launcher/John Kraus Photography

Launcher, a developer of high-performance rockets and orbital transfer vehicles, successfully demonstrated a full-scale burning of its 3D printed rocket engine. The testing of the E2 engine was carried out at NASA’s Stennis Area Heart in Mississippi.

The primary full-scale thrust check demonstrated about 22,046 pound-feet of thrust (about 10 metric tons) utilizing LOX/Kerosene at 100 bars of combustion strain.

E-2 3D Printed Rocket Engine

The E-2 rocket engine is a closed-cycle, high-performance 3D printed rocket engine being developed for the Launcher Light launch vehicle (inaugural launch scheduled for 2024). A single E-2 engine will propel Launcher Light into low-Earth orbit with a payload of 150 kg.

The chamber of the E-2 is unique in that it is liquid oxygen cooled and 3D printed in copper alloy in a single piece. It also employs an industrial supply chain copper chromium zirconium alloy (CuCrZr), which reduces prices and supply chain constraints as compared to the aerospace-grade copper alloy commonly utilized in 3D-printed combustion chambers.

Launcher is the first small launch firm to employ 3D printed copper alloy, and it pioneered small launch 3D printed technology by developing the first big format (100 x 45 x 45 cm) bespoke 3D printer in collaboration with AMCM. The AMCM M4K 3D printer was used to create the Launcher’s single-part copper alloy combustion chamber. Furthermore, the E-2’s cutting-edge co-axial injector is 3D printed on a Velo3D Sapphire.

Engine Testing

Above: 3D printed rocket engine testing of full-scale burn/Video Source: Launcher/YouTube

Instead of being machined or solid like traditional ones, the combustion chamber is totally 3D printed in copper alloy.

This is just one of many resurfacing milestones; a turbopump with the required 3x strain of the nominal combustion strain is being investigated concurrently. After being personally examined, they will be built-in, and the resulting built-in engine will begin its personal proving phase.

For all plans to come together, the corporation must earn a lot of money this year. The Light’s tanks and fairing should be ready by the end of the year. This will not only secure additional cash from space flights, but also consistent investment. Orbiter, the company’s other main project, will be launched into space for on-orbit testing in October on a Falcon 9 rideshare.

“As for reusability, Launcher Gentle will likely be expendable (if low-cost). However now we have plans to scale to a nine-engine model which can have a reusable first stage. Step one although is to show we are able to ship 150 kg of payload to orbit with an expendable Launcher Gentle.”

– Max Haot, Founder and CEO

As a further step, Launcher will run tests with the same chamber and injector in early May, gently altered to remove all film cooling to improve performance. The goal is to raise C* efficiency from 90% in this test to our 98 percent target.


About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D Printing. Visit our Global News page for more updates on Global 3D Printing News. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Manufactur3D is an Indian Online 3D Printing Media Platform that reports on the latest news, insights and analysis from the Indian and the Global 3D Printing Industry.
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