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The first hot firing of next-generation rocket engine

on 28 June 2018

In June this year, the first hot fire test of an engine technology demonstrator took place, from a series of planned tests meant to guide Europe’s next-generation upper-stage rocket engine design.

By the end of the year, the Expander-cycle Technology Integrated Demonstrator, or ETID, based at the DLR German Aerospace Centre test facility in Lampoldshausen, will be ignited 20 times with each firing lasting up to 120 seconds on a test stand that provides a near-vacuum environment similar to space.

Engineers will use the results from the test campaign to determine the hardware characteristics, including a precise thrust measurement to determine its “specific impulse” – indicating the exact performance of the engine design.

The results will validate the engine concept and analysis tools used, as well as identifying opportunities for even lighter designs.

ETID is a precursor of the next generation of 10-tonne rocket engines. Its results also have relevance for the in-development Vinci engine, which powers the upper stage of Ariane 6.

Results from the project should pave the way towards a lightweight, high-performing rocket stage, while also indicating methods of substantially reducing its serial production cost, honing its market competitiveness.

Led by ArianeGroup in Germany, the ETID project is part of ESA’s Future Launchers Preparatory Programme. Romania participates to Period 3 of this Programme.

Image credit: ESA