ORBITEC’s Rocket Engine Soars Above the Mojave Desert
Madison, Wisconsin based Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITEC™) has successfully flight-tested its new rocket engine and technologies in Mojave, CA. ORBITEC integrated its Vortex Liquid Rocket Engine into a launch vehicle airframe designed and built by Garvey Spacecraft Corporation (GSC) of Long Beach, California and California State University at Long Beach. The team conducted the launch of the vehicle to demonstrate ORBITEC’s patented Vortex Liquid Rocket Engine and other advanced and unique technologies, including its acoustic igniter and lightweight composite nozzle extension with the composite nozzle being provided by ATK of Salt Lake City, Utah. The 100% successful demonstration indicates readiness of ORBITEC’s engines for future applications of space and boost propulsion for military, NASA, and commercial customers.
The test demonstrates integrated success of the Vortex Propulsion Flight Demonstration (VPFD) program that ORBITEC conducted for the US military. The ORBITEC vortex liquid propellant rocket engine eliminates the need for regenerative cooling of rocket combustion chambers that provide the same or better performance while making the engine smaller, more manufacturable, and much more cost effective. The engine configuration also dramatically reduces the cost of fabrication and results in simple, rugged, reusable thrust rocket engines that are not subject to severe thermal fatigue. These classes of engines are immediately applicable to upper stages that deliver satellites to orbit, smaller systems for vehicle and spacecraft maneuvering, and larger systems to assist with launch. The high performance, high reliability and robustness, combined with the potential cost savings are anticipated to be significant contributions to more cost effective access and operations in space.
ORBITEC with a significant team of experts is integrating a specific configuration for a new 30,000 lbf VR-3A Vision engine for the US Air Force Advanced Upper Stage Engine Program (AUSEP) and for NASA in-space and planetary propulsion systems including the Space Launch System. ORBITEC’s 10-year effort has elevated the readiness level of the vortex cooled liquid propellant thrust chamber, igniter, and subcontractor ATK’s carbon-carbon nozzle extension to what NASA and the military call a “TRL of 6”, demonstrating the system in a relevant flight environment. These efforts will pave the way for new, significantly safer, low-cost space access.
Representatives from NASA, ATK, MOOG and the US Air Force were present to observe and witness the operation and successful flight test engine system. “ORBITEC, in collaboration with the AFRL, designed, developed, and demonstrated the vortex engine. The next step is to demonstrate the performance at a larger scale and ensure that future launch vehicle requirements are captured in our design,” said Paul Zamprelli, Business Director at Orbital Technologies Corporation. “ORBITEC is ready and excited to compete for any future rocket engine and propulsion applications.”
This success contributes to ORBITEC’s schedule of maturation necessary to show readiness, application,
and value for the Advanced Upper Stage Program for the USAF. ORBITEC’s core advisors and
subcontractors include ATK, MOOG, Barber Nichols, Concept NREC, and The Boeing Company. “We
look forward to supplying the Air Force, NASA, and commercial markets with all of our affordable
advanced engines and technologies,” said Zamprelli. “The ORBITEC Engineering Team, consisting of
Dr. Martin Chiaverini, J. Arthur (Chip) Sauer, Scott Munson, Ryan Cavitt, and Chad Walker, have
dedicated their time and dreams in making this a reality. ORBITEC, as a company, is committed to
reducing costs and increasing the accessibility and utilization of space for the betterment of humans on
Earth, for cost-reduction of our exploration programs, and for expansion of a commercial space
ORBITEC, with further funding, will be developing systems to support the propulsion needs of the AUSE
Program and future customers. The company is very interested in strategic partnering for synergistic
value and accelerated advancement of its products. The partnership with Garvey Spacecraft, which has an
established record of conducting such technology demonstration flight tests, is a visible example of this