Headlines > News > XCOR Aerospace Completes Methane Engine Pulse Fire Tests

XCOR Aerospace Completes Methane Engine Pulse Fire Tests

Published by Sigurd De Keyser on Fri Jan 20, 2006 9:44 pm
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XCOR Aerospace, Inc. announced today that it has successfully fired its 3M9 LOX/methane engine in short, rapid bursts. These tests are part of a contract with the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL). – Click here to view a pulse firing video

“We are very pleased with this second series of test results,” said XCOR president Jeff Greason. “This test demonstrates the rapid stop and restart pulse mode, and minimum impulse bit that are required for reaction control system (RCS) applications. This system has potential for a variety of space applications.”

The engine test took place at XCOR’s facilities at Mojave Spaceport on 23 November 2005. The test consisted of four short pulses (see video). These series of tests were done with self-pressurizing propellants. Previous engine tests conducted in April, 2005, consisted of 22 engine firings totaling 65 seconds. The longest engine firing was seven seconds. Pressure-fed and pump-fed versions are currently in development. Additional technical performance information is available upon request.

The company first announced testing of a methane rocket engine in August, 2005. Design, fabrication, and testing of the engines were initially funded entirely through private investment capital. Current engine tests are being conducted as part of a Phase I SBIR contract under AFRL’s Propulsion Directorate at its Edwards Research Site and as part of development for an advanced regeneratively cooled LOX/methane engine for space applications.

LOX/methane rocket engines show promise to provide higher performance necessary for manned moon missions. NASA, in its ESAS study of how to return to the Moon, recognized the importance of LOX/methane:

“The additional performance benefit of a mature LOX/methane system … provided the launch mass capability to enable the 1.5-launch architecture, thus allowing for crew launch on the single-stick SRB, which has the lowest [loss of crew] probability. The LOX/methane system was also desirable to eliminate the operability issues related to hypergols and to enable the use of in-situ methane on Mars and oxygen on the Moon and Mars.”

In addition to higher performance, LOX/methane engines have been recognized as having many advantages over current systems such as long term storability necessary for manned moon or mars missions, and its non-toxic nature which significantly lowers operations costs, enhances crew safety and is safer for the environment.

XCOR Aerospace is a California corporation located in Mojave, California. The company is in the business of developing and producing safe, reliable and reusable rocket engines and rocket powered vehicles.

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