Thomas Teasley, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

NASAŹ¼s Development of Lander and Interplanetary Continuously Rotating Detonation Engines
November 3, 2023


NASA has successfully test-fired a novel and compact liquid propulsion system known as a Rotating Detonation Rocket Engine. This is a specially designed ring-shaped thrust chamber that leverages additive manufacturing techniques and novel alloys such as GRCop-42 and GRX-810. The extreme combustion event, known as a detonation, reduces the combustion chamber length requirements down to a few inches while equivalent constant pressure rocket thrust chambers are on the order of feet. This is primarily due to rapid completion of combustion by the high-pressure detonation an order of magnitude faster than deflagration. In addition, the ring shape allows for rapid expansion of the combustion products. Depending on the thrust class and design supersonic area ratio, the RDRE can be anywhere from 50% to 70% shorter than a traditional liquid rocket assuming the same exit diameter. This enables substantial mass savings, cost savings, and broader design trade space for various mission architectures. Finally, the engine system has the potential for higher ISP at an identical average chamber pressure, which is currently being assessed by engineers at NASAʼs Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) and Glenn Research Center.


Thomas Teasley

He is a liquid propulsion systems development engineer at NASAʼs Marshall Space Flight Center. He specializes in the design, fabrication, post-processing, and testing of additively manufactured combustion devices. More recently, he has been developing detonative cycle combustors such as RDREs and their injection systems. He received his BS in Physics from Clemson University in 2015 and an MS in Aerospace Engineering from Auburn University in 2017.