A full-scale fuel preburner for Stratolaunch’s PGA rocket engine undergoes a test firing at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. (Stratolaunch Photo)
Stratolaunch Systems, the space venture founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, says it has successfully completed the first hot-fire test of a key component for its hydrogen-fueled PGA rocket engine.
The full-scale hydrogen preburner was fired up last Friday at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, less than a year after design work started.
“This is the first step in proving the performance and highly efficient design of the PGA engine. The hot-fire test is an incredible milestone for both the propulsion team and Stratolaunch,” Jeff Thornburg, vice president of propulsion at Stratolaunch, said today in a news release.
The preburner typically begins the combustion process in a rocket engine and drives the fuel pumps to bring the engine up to full power. The PGA’s preburner is fabricated exclusively through additive manufacturing, also known as metal 3-D printing. That allows for rapid prototyping on a much faster scale than traditional manufacturing methods.
Stratolaunch didn’t disclose how long Friday’s firing lasted, but the company said the duration and power levels of the preburner tests would be increased over the ...