Watch NASA Fire Its Next Gen Rocket Engine for Deep Space

NASA has successfully tested a new type of rocket dubbed the rotating detonation rocket engine (RDRE)—laying the groundwork for a future propulsion system that could take us to the Moon and even beyond Mars into deep space.

The RDRE’s design allows it to use less fuel than current propulsion systems, while also producing more power and thrust as well. It works by creating a supersonic combustion effect known as detonation. The energy from the detonation travels rotates around a circular chamber that also feeds it fuel and oxidizers—allowing it to get more power out of the fuel.

Since it’s more fuel efficient, it has a lot of obvious potentials when it comes to incorporating it into interplanetary spacecraft as well as human landers when we want to colonize the lunar surface and Mars.

Watch it for yourself below:

The tests actually occurred in 2022 when the engine was fired more than a dozen times at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. It wasn’t until recently that the data gathered from the tests were analyzed and confirmed in an agency announcement on Wednesday.

In all, the RDRE fired for 10 minutes and demonstrated that it could withstand the intense heat and pressure it created without exploding into a million pieces. At full throttle, the engine created more than 4,000 pounds of thrust—which amounts to roughly 622 pounds per square inch of pressure.

In all, the successful test fire is a positive sign for NASA’s hopes of colonizing the solar system. It’ll also help with commercial space efforts as well as it’ll allow crafts to carry more payload and travel more quickly through the cosmos.

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