Flight International online news 10:00GMT: XCOR Aerospace has completed the first series of tests on a 50-pound thrust rocket engine fuelled by methane and liquid oxygen.

Methane rocket BIG
                                                                                                Source: XCOR

"We are very pleased with the test results and expect increased performance in future versions," said XCOR chief engineer Dan DeLong.

"These engine tests gave us operational familiarity working with methane. We have extensive experience with liquid oxygen, so running an engine with a cryogenic fuel wasn't a stretch for us."

Future generations of the 3M9 engine are intended for use as reaction control systems (RCS) and satellite manoeuvring systems.

The advantages of a methane-fuelled engine include: long-term on-orbit storage, higher density than hydrogen engines, higher performance than kerosene engines, and the potential for using methane derived from the martian atmosphere as a fuel source.

The engine tests took place at XCOR's facilities at Mojave Spaceport in south-east California and consisted of 22 engine firings totaling 65 seconds.

Self-pressurizing propellants were used for these tests. Pressure-fed and pump-fed versions are also in development.


Source: Flight International