Spacecraft attempting to land on an unfamiliar surface need to perform a maneuver called “deep throttling” — a step that allows the vehicle to precisely throttle down to perform a smooth, controlled landing. NASA and industry partners have demonstrated this type of engine control capability to help design a more reliable and robust descent engine that could be used to land space exploration vehicles on the moon, an asteroid or another planet.
The Common Extensible Cryogenic Engine, also known as CECE, recently completed the fourth and final series of hot-fire tests on a 15,000-pound thrust class cryogenic technology demonstrator rocket engine, increasing the throttling capability by 35 percent over previous tests. This test series demonstrated this engine could go from a thrust range of 104 percent power down to 5.9 percent. This equates to an unprecedented 17.6:1 deep-throttling capability, which means this cryogenic engine can quickly throttle up and down.
Image Credit: NASA
WARP DRIVES: MAKING THE “IMPOSSIBLE” POSSIBLE
“In June 2009, Dr. Obousy gave Discovery News an exclusive look at his “warpship” concept (a piece of ‘sufficiently advanced technology’ itself), a spaceship that could generate its own warp “bubble,” compressing spacetime in the front of the vehicle and expanding it from the rear.”
(via Discovery News)
SPACEX STATUS UPDATE
The SpaceX team kicked off 2010 with the successful full duration orbit insertion firing of the Falcon 9 second stage at our Texas test site. This was the final stage firing required for launch, so the second stage will soon be packaged for shipment and should arrive at Cape Canaveral by end of month. Depending on how well full vehicle integration goes, launch should occur one to three months later.
The main upgrade from Ariane ECA to this Ariane ME is the new reusable Vinci cryogenic engine.