NASA wants to conquer deep space: its new propulsion system promises to help meet that challenge

The first thing is that the human being returns to the Moon. That is the goal of the Artemis program. Then probably Mars. But at NASA they want to go further and propose longer and longer space trips.

In order to complete them, yes, you need to solve a few problems, and among them is the propulsion systems that allow you to travel those enormous distances. Now they have an interesting candidate to achieve it: the rotary detonation engine.

The Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine (RDRE) is based on continuous hypersonic explosions, and the theory is that this type of combustion is 25% more efficient than traditional deflagration combustion.

NASA agrees, and in fact now has a real example of this technology. His engineers created a system with various 3D-printed parts made of a copper alloy called GRCop-42 and developed by the agency.

In tests carried out, this engine was able to withstand the high temperatures and pressure generated by these hypersonic detonations, and produced more than 1,800 kg of propulsion for almost a minute.

This design, say those responsible for NASA, allows more mass to be moved with less fuel, something that would facilitate more efficient and sustainable trips to space.

The success of the test takes us to the next step: NASA is now preparing a reusable engine of this type capable of offering a propulsion of 4,500 kg and that will allow its behavior to be compared with traditional liquid fuel-based ones.

This project is not the only one in which NASA is working to propose alternatives to the current engines of space missions. For years he has been collaborating with DARPA for the creation of a nuclear propulsion system with the DRACO project.