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The World’s First Rotating Detonation Engine Flight Test

Umit Yelken
Sep 22 · 3 min read

“Spacecraft engines still use the 20th-century rocket engine technology.”

I know most of you think that this statement is ridiculous at first glance. And you will think so, especially when you see all the news about the new space age that we are on the verge.

However, this is the daring truth, and let me explain the current situation.

When we look at today’s propulsion technologies, we see different solutions for different needs. We have combinations based on changing the fuel selections, pressurization method, combustion chamber, and nozzle geometry. Given an overview of all these technologies, they all function in deflagration mode. Deflagration is the name given to the subsonic combustion. And all we have been trying to increase efficiency in deflagration mode by using different combinations to make bits of iterations. Most companies in the same logic are trying to make structural changes to engine design, trying to increase efficiency. However, we are already at the theoretical limits of thermodynamical efficiency. And it is hard to imagine that the same propulsion technology will open new gates for our enduring adventure of exploring space.

In contrast, detonation occurs at supersonic speeds, and detonation engines can significantly boost humanities’ efforts in space. They have the potential to change all propulsion technologies fundamentally, from Mars missions to all space missions. As they offer an increase in around 30% efficiency, they will play an essential role in exploring space’s unknowns. And we can see advancements in capabilities ranging from establishing bases quickly and cheaply to traveling the furthest distances in space at a more incredible speed.

“Detonation Engines Are Thermodynamically The Most Ideal Engines For Space Missions”

At Mission: DE, as a team, we have started our theoretical works on detonation engines’ possibilities in 2018. Our efforts became tangible as we designed the Lundet-7 engine and completed the static ignition tests in 2020.

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Our work suggests that Lundet engines, which works much more efficiently than conventional rocket motors, promises to increase its functional load-carrying capacity up to 30 times in space missions. They also offer a significant reduction in fuel needs and carry more useful payloads on missions.

The proposed system has the potential to decrease costs on space missions significantly. On the other hand, it is also possible to reach higher speeds due to this engine’s supersonic operation.

We believe that detonation engines are the future of space technology and we are getting ready to fire their engine in 2021. And now is the time for the world to abandon the propulsion technologies of the 20th century and switch 21st-century technology.

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