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.
📣 Aeon R Mission Duty Cycle complete!!! Last night @NASAStennis #AeonR burned in a flight-like configuration for 143 seconds at 70% power – marking a record-breaking pace for engine development and a very speedy 48-hour turnaround from Aeon R's first ever hot fires to… pic.twitter.com/Sy7VvTLQUG— Relativity Space (@relativityspace) December 16, 2023
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.