Engineers at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, conduct a successful, 251-second hot fire test of a full-scale Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine combustor in fall 2023, achieving more than 5,800 pounds of thrust. Photo & Video Credit: NASA

Technology USA21. January 2024

A Milestone in Space Exploration Through a 3D-Printed Rocket Engine

An innovative propulsion system developed by NASA has produced enough thrust to set a spacecraft on course in outer space, meaning the agency is one step closer to making the Moon to Mars vision a reality.

“The Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine (RDRE) enables a huge leap in design efficiency,” states combustion devices engineer Thomas Teasley, who leads the RDRE test effort at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

The first test conducted in the summer of 2022 – made possible in partnership with In Space LLC and Purdue University – produced more than 1,800 kg of thrust for almost a minute. This time, a novel, 3D-printed RDRE was successfully tested for 251 seconds – or longer than four minutes – producing more than 2,600 kg of thrust. Its primary goal was to understand better how to scale the combustor to different thrust classes, support engine systems of all types, and maximize the variety of missions it could serve on Mars.


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