Boeing to test experimental rocket engine

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drwayne

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With an eye toward revolutionary new rocket engine systems, engineers from The Rocketdyne Propulsion & Power business unit of the Integrated Defense Systems of The Boeing Company have begun final preparations for testing a futuristic engine at the Stennis Space Center (SSC) in Mississippi. The engine, dubbed the Integrated Powerhead Demonstration, or IPD, combines the very latest in rocket engine propulsion technologies. Following system checkout, an ambitious "hot-fire" testing program will begin in earnest in this January. <br /><br />Rest of the article here:<br /><br />http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n0411/18rocketdyne/<br /><br />Wayne <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>"1) Give no quarter; 2) Take no prisoners; 3) Sink everything."  Admiral Jackie Fisher</p> </div>
 
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mikejz

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Got to love Boeing always doing really complex stuff instead of tring to design lower cost, simpler stuff. AFASK that super-simple, low cost engine designed for the Lunar LM has only been used by SpaceX for its engine design.
 
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rogers_buck

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Looks like some of the N1 technology in a domestic engine. The hydrostatic bearings sound interesting. in the turbopumps I guess. Kinda guess what they are from the name.<br /><br />Eight of those engines would make a nice first stage booster.
 
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halman

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mikejz,<br /><br />When you have a large payroll of highly educated engineers, it makes sense to try to push the envelope a bit. The way that I see it, we are going to be using high technology to get into space and travel around there for a long time.<br /><br />Take a look at the average new car: backyard mechanics have little hope of being able to do more than change the spark plugs and the oil. This is not a result of a desire to make a more complicated product. Far from it! The demands of the utilization of the product have caused this advance from simple carburetors to computer controlled fuel injection, computerized engine and transmission controls, and safety devices.<br /><br />When the goal is to hurl mass away from the Earth at 5 miles per second, simple is rarely an option. Even bicycles have become high tech. And why does a toaster need an on-board computer? To make toast more efficiently, with higher quality, and memory of your favorite cooking time. Many people interested in space flight seem to think that the big companies are needlessly complicating the process. Take a look at what they are trying to accomplish before making judgements about how 'simple' things should be. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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najab

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><i>When the goal is to hurl mass away from the Earth at 5 miles per second, simple is rarely an option.</i><p>Sometimes it is. The goal of a rocket engine is to take propellant in at one end and throw as much of it as you can out the other end as fast as possible. No matter how simple or complex the engine the goal is the same. The fact is that American rocket designers haven't tried building a simple engine for many years.</p>
 
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no_way

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>Take a look at the average new car: backyard mechanics have little hope of being able to do more than change the spark plugs and the oil. This is not a result of a desire to make a more complicated product. Far from it!<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br />Actually, from my observation on where the car industry is headed, overcomplicating maintenance procedures is in some respects deliberate because its a huge business and they dont want any competition in it.<br />You'd think that all that electronics and computerization would make car diagnostics cheaper and easier over time, well, the trend is exactly the opposite.<br /><br />See this slashdot story for instance:<br />http://yro.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=04/06/01/1839211&tid=<br />
 
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halman

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najaB,<br /><br />I understand that way back in the early 1960's a philosophy of design in American rocket engines emerged, which focused on a small number of very high performance engines, which were made to function in spite of subsystem failures. This is contrasted by the approach of the Soviet Union, which choose to use large numbers of lower-performance engines, and expect that a few would fail on every launch.<br /><br />The quest for ever higher specific impulse values has driven engine design, resulting in turbopumps which can empty a swimming pool in seconds, ceramics which can withstand temperatures of over a thousand degrees, rocket nozzles cooled by liquid hydrogen(!), and regeneration schemes which make a home mortgage look like child's play. However, the end result is engines which are barely larger than an automobile engine, yet produce tens of thousands of horsepower, (to keep the analogy correct.)<br /><br />Simple rocket engines tend to be heavy, with low performance. It would be wonderful if some new approach could get around that problem, but I am skeptical of one being found. Of course, if we asked some people who knew nothing about rocket engines how to acheive elements of the needed functions, we might get a surprise from a new perspective.<br /><br />For instance, instead of using pumps to push the fuel into the combustion chamber, what if we heated the fuel to the point where it will flow into the chamber itself? (Several large explosions later..., oh, well, never mind.) <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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halman

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no_way,<br /><br />I believe that there is some truth to the idea that automotive manufacturers are trying to discourage non-dealer mechanics from working on their product, but I think that some of that is driven by the 100,000 mile warranty.<br /><br />The truth be told, electronic engine controls and fuel injection are just more efficient than the old fashioned methods. However, the root of the problem is the reciprocating engine, with its momentary combustion cycles, large numbers of moving parts, and inability to shed its heritage as an external combustion engine which was switched to an internal combustion engine. Most people don't realize that the gasoline fired reciprocating engine evolved from the steam engine, when gasoline was introduced into the steam piston cylinder and ignited to give momentary increases in torque.<br /><br />The turbine engine is an example of how an internal combustion engine should be built. With only one major moving part, and a continuous combustion process, the turbine is often 95 percent efficient, compared with 25 percent effiency for the gasoline reciprocating engine.<br /><br />Of course, none of this has anything to do with rocket engines, or why they are so complicated. Maybe we can use pedal power! <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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najab

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I can't help but wonder if the Russian's didn't get it right. Inefficient but cheap might turn out to be okay. After all, the Soyuz rocket flying today is a product of that philosophy.
 
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propforce

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What the Russian got it right was a 30 years of continuous funding on rocket engine research and continuous product improvement. Their rocket plant has iron ore goes in at one end and a complete rocket engine comes out at the other end. They practice vertical integration and their extent of systems engineering practice is a few grey beard chief engineers whom are still technically competent and knows how to design and manufacture every little details parts in the engine. Their contract management was simple: get it working or you won't get the next funding! They also have the mentality of build, test, explode, buid again, test again, until they get it right. <br /><br />Now where did we go wrong, can anyone tell ? <img src="/images/icons/smile.gif" /><br /><br /> <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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propforce

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When NASA began to look at the new space exploration (again) this time around. It was painfully obvious that we do not have the (U.S. made) engines to do the manned missions like we did during the Apollo era.<br /><br />We do not have a first stage engine that provide us the 1.6 MILLION pound thrust like the F-1 did.<br /><br />We do not have the 2nd stage engine that provide a 250K lbf thrust like the J-2 did.<br /><br />We still have the one and only RL-10, but we need a higher thrust engine of at least 2.5~3X of its thrust.<br /><br />..... The IPD engine can address one need, the 2nd stage engine, if the government can consistently fund its development cycle. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> </div>
 
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no_way

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<blockquote><font class="small">In reply to:</font><hr /><p>For instance, instead of using pumps to push the fuel into the combustion chamber, what if we heated the fuel to the point where it will flow into the chamber itself?<p><hr /></p></p></blockquote><br /><br />Actually, have you seen this ? <br />http://www.rocketfuelpump.com/<br /><br />Turbopump performance at the fraction of the cost and complexity.
 
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halman

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no_way,<br /><br />For various reasons, I tend not to focus on any given area of interest extensively. I am interested in spaceflight, but I do not spend much time looking at reserach into rocket design. I am glad to see that alternative technologies are being investigated, and I hope that this spurs progress in building new motors for the space program. The approach that your link demonstrates is a new way of thinking about one of the oldest problems in motor design. Whether it is viable on very large engines remains to be seen, and I hope that the company can get the support to continue their research. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> The secret to peace of mind is a short attention span. </div>
 
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rogers_buck

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Interesting. Seems like this kind of technology:<br /><br />http://www.aip.org/png/html/macroson.htm<br /><br />Could possibly have some application. Maybe if pressure fed liquid fuel were vaporized cooling the engines and then re-compressed into the engines... No moving parts anyway.<br />
 
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crossovermaniac

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<font color="yellow">Actually, from my observation on where the car industry is headed, overcomplicating maintenance procedures is in some respects deliberate because its a huge business and they dont want any competition in it.<br />You'd think that all that electronics and computerization would make car diagnostics cheaper and easier over time, well, the trend is exactly the opposite.</font><br /><br />It's also done to discourage the do-it-yourselfers from doing their own repairs. Imagine what would happen if any Tom, Dick, or Harry could hook their laptop to their car computer and use a program to do diagnostics on their own car. Why, people wouldn't give them any money for it and they couldn't charge the hell out of you to do it for you.
 
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cosmictraveler

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CrossoverManiac.........<br /><br />Funny isn't it that the amount of miles per gallon on most large V-8 engines hasn't changed that much since the development of all the computerization and injectors type of "improvements" has it? I think a carb on a small block V-8 with no computer still can do a great job today but as has been stated the manufacturers want to keep the back yard mechanics away from their their multi million dollar repair and parts departments. The manufacturers are always trying to design ways to complicate their cars to insure that only their own mechanics know how to work on them leaving us back yard mechanics out in the cold. <br /><br />To purchase some of the equipment to diagnose problems with cars today would cost a fortune to a at home mechanic whereas before he could easily diagnose the problem with just his ears eyes and hands. Today you must have sophisticated equipment in order to find problems anywhere in the cars. <div class="Discussion_UserSignature"> <p>It does not require many words to speak the truth. Chief Joseph</p> </div>
 
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nacnud

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Perhaps the developments haven't been to large V8s but to smaller engines. The fuel efficiency and power of smaller engines has continued to increase, at least here in Europe, I've no experience of what’s going on the US.
 
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