top of page
  • Writer's picturebidyut gogoi

The Rocket Motor of the Future Breathes Air Like a Jet Engine


A SMALL airport that stands on the edge of a large desert area and draws aerospace rebels like moths to a flame is located approximately two hours' drive north of Los Angeles.


Companies like Scaled Composites, the first private company to launch a person to space, and Masten Space Systems, which manufactures lunar landers, are based near the Mojave Air & Space Port.


America's most daring space projects are tested here, so when Aaron Davis and Scott Stegman landed on the revered tarmac in July of last year, they knew they were at the proper spot.


AROUND a two-hour drive north of Los Angeles, there is a little airstrip that stands on the edge of a wide desert area and draws aerospace mavericks like moths to a flame.


Businesses like Scaled Composites, the first to launch a private astronaut to space, and Masten Space Systems, which specialises in manufacturing lunar landers, are based at the Mojave Air & Space Port.


Aaron Davis and Scott Stegman knew they were in the proper location when they arrived to the revered tarmac in July because it serves as the testing ground for America's most daring space ventures.


The idea to combine the efficiency of a jet engine with the power of a rocket motor isn’t new, but historically these systems have only been combined in stages.


Virgin Galactic and Virgin Orbit, for example, use jet aircraft to carry conventional rockets several miles into the atmosphere before releasing them for the final leg of the journey to space.


In other cases, the order is reversed. The fastest aircraft ever flown, NASA’s X-43, used a rocket engine to provide an initial boost before an air-breathing hypersonic jet engine—known as a scramjet—took over and accelerated the vehicle to 7,300 mph, nearly 10 times the speed of sound.


The cost of travelling to space would be significantly reduced if these tiered systems could be combined into a single engine. According to Christopher Goyne, director of the University of Virginia's Aerospace Research Laboratory and a specialist in hypersonic flight, "the holy grail is a single-stage-to-orbit vehicle where you can take off from a runway, go into space, and return back and reuse the system."


7 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page