Launcher’s first-ever 3D printed turbopump, the first of many to come on the company’s way to orbit, underwent high performance testing for closed cycle at NASA Stennis Space Center E-complex. The initiative was sponsored by U.S. Space Force SBIR.
Stennis Space Center serves as the US’ premier rocket propulsion test facility and provides propulsion test and engineering services for NASA, the Department of Defense, and commercial customers. The Engineering and Test Directorate (ETD) vision is to be the nation’s premier provider of ground-testing services for rocket propulsion systems.
The ETD mission is to support the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) and the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) through execution of the Center’s major line of business in rocket propulsion testing. Integral to this mission, ETD delivers safe, responsive, and cost-effective propulsion test services to support U.S. leadership in space exploration and the enhancement of national economic competitiveness.
E&TD is the office responsible for overseeing the safe operation of these one of a kind national test facilities and for overseeing the rocket engine propulsion test programs at SSC. The national assets are valued at over $2 billion.
Powered by five Launcher Engine-2s and 20 meters (65 feet) in length, Launcher’s Rocket-1 will deliver satellite payloads of up to 773 kg (1,704 lbs) to low earth orbit. Rocket-1 will have the small satellite launch industry’s highest ratio of payload to rocket mass.
Launcher E-2 engines are 3D printed in high-performance copper alloy and require less propellant to get to orbit — allowing Launcher to deliver more satellite cargo per rocket and as a result, offer a lower price than our competitors. The engines are 3D printed by AMCM on a modified EOS 400 system and they are the largest single-part 3D printed liquid rocket engine combustion chamber. Printing in a single piece reduces costs and enables the highest-performance regenerative cooling design.
E-2 is currently in active development, with more than 100 tests of the sub-scale Engine-1 validating its path to industry-leading performance levels. The first full-scale test fire of the E-2 injector and combustion chamber occurred at Launcher’s NASA Stennis Space Center test stand in October 2020. The E-2 Turbo-pump testing represents the next step and will be followed by tests of the thrust chamber assembly.