UK startup makes a 3D printed rocket engine
UK-based Orbex has unveiled a prototype satellite-launching rocket that could change how rockets are designed. The prototype includes the world’s largest 3D printed engine, the company says. The engine is a first for the space industry.
The rocket’s engine was printed in one piece with no joins. This makes it 30 percent lighter and 20 percent more efficient than other small launchers, according to the company, as well as more resistant to pressure and extreme temperatures given the lack of welding and joining. The engine was created in partnership with SLM Solutions.
The rocket, called Orbex Prime, runs on bio-propane, a clean-burning, renewable fuel that reduces carbon emissions by 90 percent compared to fossil hydrocarbon fuels. It is designed to deliver small satellites into earth’s orbit and is scheduled to launch from Orbex’s new facilities in Scotland in 2021.