On 9th September 2021, HyEnD has successfully tested its HyLIGHT 10kN rocket engine for the first time. In contrast to the planned flight version of the HyLIGHT engine, the prototype engine tested features an aluminum casing. This allows a modular engine design and a reuse of insulation components in multiple test configurations. The first test was conducted with an impingement injector and film cooling ablator in the post combustion chamber. The burn time of the engine was restricted to five seconds, as the goal of the test was to prove that all required systems are working correctly and reliably.
The current test campaign will assess the effectiveness of film cooling and the influence of various design changes to the combustion efficiency. The regression rate will be evaluated and optimized as well. Since September, various prototypes of the engine have reached a culminated operation time of more than 37 seconds. In the following weeks and months, the design of the fuel grain, injector and insulation components will be finalized, and the burn time increased to up to 25 seconds. First tests with an engine with CFRP casing are planned for early 2022.
On 25 June 2021, HyEnD successfully launched its subscale demonstator rocket „Compass“ for the DLR STERN project. The launch took place at the Truppenuebungsplatz (military training area) Heuberg. Compass was able to reach an altitude of more than 3200 m / 10,000 ft above ground and an initial accelleration of more than 6.5 g. During ascent, all systems performed nominally. Drogue and main parachutes were ejected– however, the main parachute was not able to unfold, and the rocket landed with a descent rate of about 20 m/s. This resulted in some damage to structural components and the fluid system. We want to thank all supporters that have made this launch possible! Scroll down for more pictures of the launch.
At the beginning of May, the drop test of the Compass recovery system took place. At an altitude of 500m, a dummy with the dry mass of Compass was dropped out of a model aircraft. The drogue chute decelerated the dummy down to 26 m/s and the main chute to 3.3 m/s. The parachutes had already been tested in the IAG wind tunnel and the drogue parachute ejection system had been tested on ground a few weeks ago. The aim of this overall test was to verify the forces that occur in the simulation and to ensure that Compass can be recovered safely.
HyEnD has successfully conducted the Static Hot Fire Test of the Compass Demonstrator Rocket. Engine, tank, fluid system and ground support equipment were tested together. The test has shown that remote tanking and launching of the rocket works safely and reliably – we are looking forward to the launch.
On March 24th, 2021 HyEnD has tested its first rocket engine with a carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) casing. The casing consists of multiple layers of carbon fiber and is produced on our winding machine in our facilities at the MPA Stuttgart. This marks a big milestone in our STERN project participation, since the new, lightweight casing was one of the most ambitious goals of the project.
The resulting engine has a dry mass of only 0.95kg and can handle pressures of up to 100 bar / 1450 psi. Tests have shown stable and efficient combustion with a measured specific impulse of more than 210s.
In the last weeks, we completed the manufacturing of the oxidizer tank for the Compass rocket. For the manufacturing, we used a newly developed technology, which will help us to reduce the structural mass of the larger N2ORTH rocket significantly. The oxidizer tank is mainly made of winded CFRP and coated with a thin layer of fluoropolymer on the inside to ensure N2O compatibility. The connectors for the upper and lower part of the rocket are mounted on the bulkheads and reinforced with additional CFRP winding. The first pressure tests showed excellent results and we are confident about the upcoming launch of Compass.
In the last few weeks, we were able to improve the performance of our HyFIVE engine. The following video shows a test with a freestanding nozzle expansion part, as it is required for the CFRP casing. The nozzle is made of winded silica fibre. More testing of such components will take place in the coming weeks. With only a few minor adjustments to the design to be tested, the first test of the CFRP casing comes closer and closer. We are looking forward to see HyFIVE flying with our Demonstrator Rocket Compass in only a few months!
It is time for some exciting news about our STERN participation! Our subscale demonstrator rocket finally has a name – Compass. Compass is scheduled to launch in only a few months, and we have made a lot of progress in the last weeks. Also, we now have a mission patch for our N2ORTH rocket! We hope you like it. 🙂
We hope you all had a great start into 2021! For us, this is a great possibility to take a look back at 2020 and our achievements within the DLR STERN program. 2020 was the first full year of our second participation in the program, and despite the challenging situation we have made a lot of progress. Our subscale demonstrator rocket is taking shape with lots of prototyping going on, and we hope to launch it in a few months.
Structure and Aerodynamics:
Over the past year, the structure and aerodynamics team grew to a group of 17 members. With a lot of effort from everyone, we were able to achieve several milestones. Besides a range of manufactured prototypes we stepped up the simulations. A few of our milestones include:
The concept of the wound and etched oxidizer tank was applied to several prototypes. The now approved design will save up to 50 percent weight on our tank for the demonstrator rocket.
We now have an international team working on FEM and CFD simulations which are combined with CFRP testing and in-house development of epoxy resins. This enables us to optimize the structure aerodynamically and in terms of weight, so we can confident it will withstand upcoming loads and temperatures. The trajectory simulation became even more detailed and predicts impressive altitudes for N2ORTH.
Tests of different designs and approaches were also conducted for the nose cone, connectors, boat tail and other small parts around the rocket.
Despite the challenging situation with the pandemic, the propulsion team was able to conduct a total of 25 successful hot fire tests with the subscale demonstrator engine HyFIVE in the time between September and December. The tests have shown that our in-house developed fuel enables smooth and stable combustion and our new composite ablative material works reliably. Also, different injector-types (showerhead, impingement, swirl) and nozzle designs have been evaluated.
Additionally, the team has constructed a 4-axis filament winding machine for the production of lightweight composite pressure vessels (combustion chambers, oxidizer tanks), nozzle components and rocket hull segments. First prototypes of the demonstrator engine have been produced for pressure tests in the new year, using one of our proprietary epoxy formulations with improved temperature- and fatigue properties.
Currently, further engine tests are postponed due to the high numbers of corona cases, but the propulsion team looks forward to even more tests with HyFIVE in the future.
2020 has certainly been an exciting year for the fluid system team. We made detailed designs for the concepts developed in 2019. Hence, our main work was the design and testing of various prototypes. In particular, the prototypes for the emergency release valve and the main valves of both the demonstrator and N2ORTH rocket yielded promising results. While testing continues, we are using the gathered knowledge for the design of the flight versions of the individual components.
Over the past year, the recovery team has had several successes. While there were only concepts, at the beginning of the year, there have already been the first successful tests and many improvements have already been incorporated into the existing concept.
The first pyro tests with our mortar-like ejection system could already take place in October. In November, we have tested the ejection of the drogue parachute. A prototype of the entire recovery bay has already been built and will be tested in a drop test at the beginning of the new year.
There is still a lot of work ahead of us and many more components to test, nonetheless the results so far make us confident of a successful recovery of the rockets.
We were able to achieve nearly all goals set for this year. We decided onto a final system topology, allowing us to spend all our time onto the individual modules. A major part of our work this year was to select and test components to fulfill every given task like recording the flight trajectory, measuring performance data of the engine as well as transmitting the collected data to the ground station. With the component selection nearly done we are now looking forward to designing and building the flight versions of the demonstrator rocket, which then need to be firmly tested to ensure smooth operation of all modules working together for the launch.
Ground Support Equipment:
In the last year, we have made a lot of progress in the GSE subsystem. We assembled the launch pad which will be used for the demonstrator launch. The arm mechanism, which enables us to undock the fuel interface remotely, is currently being assembled as well.
Progress was also made in our electronic department. It completed development of the system used to control and monitor the fueling process, as well as all other functions of the launch platform. It is also used to schedule and fire all pyrotechnic devices used to light the engine at launch.
The control system was split into three different custom-made PCBs and is managed using a Raspberry Pi running C Code. The graphical user interface running remotely in the control room is currently under development and will allow for easy monitoring and actuation of all functions.
The fueling system has evolved as well. It is planned to use a diving bottle as a buffer tank to fill the demonstrator rocket with oxidizer. The process uses a series of solenoid valves and sensors to ensure the right oxidizer level and pressure in the main tank while also being remotely actuated. In the next couple of months till the launch of the demonstrator rocket, there will be a complete dry run of the entire fueling process in conjunction with the fluid system.
After we have successfully conducted our first tests of HyFIVE-2 last week, here are some stunning photos we took. HyFIVE-2 is the 800N version of our test engine which will later – in combination with a lightweight casing – power our demonstrator rocket. We have tested some injector designs to improve fuel regression, thrust and efficiency, reaching a combustion chamber pressure of more than 25 bar. The new ablative nozzle made of carbon phenolic has also proven its ability to withstand the high temperatures in our engine. Since the first tests were very promising, we are looking forward to the next tests in the following weeks to improve the engine even further.Watch our testvideo here: