Aeon R engine hot static test

Aeon R engine: Successful Fire Test in a Flight-Like Configuration at NASA’s Stennis Space Center

Relativity Space achieved another success with a 143-second hot static fire test of their new engine Aeon R at NASA's propulsion test site

Relativity Space’s Aeon R engine completed its first hot-static-fire test at 70% of power for 143 seconds, resembling a flight-like configuration. The test was carried out on December 16, at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in South Mississippi, America’s largest rocket propulsion test site. Just two days prior, on December 14, an inaugural hot-fire test was conducted (once again at a power level of 70%) albeit limited to a duration of only 10 seconds, during which it was inspected and validated the correct functioning of the hardware.

With this latest test, Relativity Space Company completed the Aeon R Full Mission Duty Cycle (MDC), which stands as a crucial milestone in engine development, affirming the capability of essential engine components, such as turbopumps, injectors, chambers, and igniters, to function in a mission configuration. It is a process that all liquid engines and solid rocket motors must go through to be validated. The Aeon R engine will power the first and second stages of Relativity’s future rocket.


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TERRAN R Launcher

Terran R is a launcher developed by Relativity Space, approximately 80 m tall, which will be able to launch  23,500 kg of payloads into LEO and ensure the injection into GEO, GTO, and MEO. As for the company’s Terran 1 rocket, the vehicle’s structure will be entirely 3D printed.

TERRAN R launch. Credits: Relativity Space
Terran R launch. Credits: Relativity Space

The rocket will be powered by a first stage equipped with 13 AEON R engines and four landing leg deployment systems, as it is designed to be rapidly reusable. In addition, the innovations of this first-stage architecture are the aerodynamic design stability and the capability of reentry at a high angle of attack that minimizes the fuel needed for reentry burns. The second stage will instead be equipped with one AEON Vacuum Engine. The 5-meter payload fairing will be the biggest among US commercial rockets in this category.


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AEON R Engine’s latest tests

Relativity Space has moved from the AEON 1 engine to the AEON R, manufactured using innovative 3D printing technology that not only permits saving time, and cost related to materials but also produces components with a lower structural coefficient, thus leading to improvements from a design point of view (thus allowing the payload weight to be increased).

On the left: Static-fire test on the 16th of December. On the right: Static-fire test on the 14th of December. Credits: Relativity Space
On the left: Static-fire test on the 16th of December. On the right: Static-fire test on the 14th of December. Credits: Relativity Space

During 2023, the following tests were conducted :

  • March, July, and September: three Thrust Chamber Assembly tests;
  • November: Powerpack igniter testing and Powerpack gas generator test;
  • December:  the engine underwent its inaugural two hot static fire tests, simulating flight conditions.

This sequence of events exemplifies the significant commitment and rapid development pace undertaken by the company to successfully conclude the design and testing phase of the new AEON R engine.

TCA testing for the AEON R engine. Credits: Relativity Space
TCA testing for the AEON R engine. Credits: Relativity Space

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Beatrice Romeo

Beatrice Romeo

Master student in Aerospace Engineering.
Ocean activist and kitesurfing athlete.

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