On Tuesday October 7th, Nammo passed a historical milestone by successfully firing the first of a series of large hybrid rocket motors it has been developing. This test also inaugurated Nammo’s brand new test facility for Green Propulsion at its test center for rocket motors in Raufoss, Norway. This purpose-built test facility will accelerate Nammo’s development of environmentally friendly rockets for atmospheric research and space applications. The facility is unique in Europe, both in terms of its size and its capabilities.
The design of the motor tested represents the latest in the evolution of hybrid rocket motor technology, and strengthens Nammo’s leading position. Nammo’s hybrid technology is based on a rocket propellant combination of hydrogen peroxide as the oxidizer and synthetic rubber as the fuel.
Hybrid rockets are a safe, controllable, low-cost and green alternative for rocket propulsion.
The test firing of the rocket was an unprecedented success. The firing lasted for a predefined 10 seconds, producing a maximum thrust of 30 kN (or 3 tons). The engine started instantly after ignition and the firing was terminated in a controlled manner by closing the main oxidizer valve. Normally a full burn would have lasted 25 seconds, but on this occasion the test was terminated after 10 seconds for a full inspection. Full integrity of the motor was conserved, meaning that the engine could have been started again to burn for the remaining 15 seconds, if so desired.
Nammo’s work with hybrid technology has been supported by the European Space Agency (ESA) since 2010, notably under its Future Launchers Preparatory Programme (FLPP). Nammo’s work fits perfectly with ESA’s objective to foster new promising technologies for future European Launchers and to include green propulsion solutions in their existing systems.
The hybrid rocket motor tested on October 7th is not only interesting from a new technology development perspective; it is also the first building block for the North Star Rocket Family. This family of affordable sounding rockets and small launchers, is developed to launch small satellites into orbit from Andøya Space Center in Northern Norway. The same motor will also be used to power the Bloodhound supersonic car to achieve a new land speed record of 1000 mph in 2016.