Launcher’s 3D printed E-2 liquid rocket engine successfully demonstrated nominal thrust, pressure, and oxidizer/fuel mixture ratio for the first time in a test fire at NASA Stennis Space Center.
E-2 is a closed cycle 3D printed, high-performance liquid rocket engine in development for the Launcher Light launch vehicle (inaugural launch scheduled for 2024). A single E-2 engine will boost Launcher Light to low Earth orbit with 150kg of payload.
The data from the test fire of the E-2 engine reads as follows: 10 metric tons of thrust (22,046 lbf), 100 bar (1,450 psi) of combustion pressure, and highest performance 2.62 propellant mixture ratio for LOX/Kerosene at 100 bar of pressure.
E-2’s chamber is uniquely liquid oxygen cooled and 3D printed in copper alloy in a single piece. It also uses industrial supply chain copper chromium zirconium alloy (CuCrZr), reducing costs and supply chain constraints compared to aerospace-grade copper alloy typically used in 3D printed combustion chambers.
Launcher is the first small launch company to use 3D printed copper alloy, and is a leader in small launch 3D printed technology with its development of the first large format (100 x 45 x 45cm), custom 3D printer in partnership with AMCM. Launcher’s single-part copper alloy combustion chamber is produced on an AMCM M4K 3D printer. Whereas E-2’s state of the art co-axial injector is 3D printed on a Velo3D Sapphire.
These technologies enable higher performance which translates into more payload per rocket and lower prices for Launcher customers.
As a next step, Launcher will test again in early May with the same chamber and injector, lightly reworked to remove all film cooling – which increases performance. The goal is to increase C* efficiency from 90% in this test to Launcher’s 98% target.
E-2 is a closed cycle engine and its high-pressure (310 bar), high-efficiency, single-shaft turbopump development is moving forward in parallel. In March 2022, Launcher successfully tested E-2’s turbine and liquid oxygen pump in boost mode at 130% nominal flow. Launcher expects to demonstrate a full duration, three-minute test with the E-2 integrated turbopump in closed cycle configuration in Q4 of 2022.