U.K. company sets a record for world’s largest 3D-printed rocket engine

worlds largest 3d printed rocket orbex space forres 070219 307 full size
Orbex

Between SpaceX’s reusable, vertically landing rockets, trips to the far side of the moon, and some halfway serious talk about asteroid mining and Mars colonies, we’re living in an exciting age for boundary-pushing. high-tech space travel. The latest illustration of this? A U.K. startup, Orbex, which recently debuted the world’s largest 3D-printed rocket engine. Produced in one single piece of high spec metal alloy, without joins, the rocket is up to 30 percent lighter and 20 percent more efficient than other similarly sized rockets, as well as being better able to withstand high temperature and pressure.

“3D printing, or additive manufacturing, has come on in leaps and bounds over the past few years — in many ways making this a superior form of parts manufacturing than traditional methods,” Chris Larmour, CEO of Orbex, told Digital Trends. “It is certainly much, much faster, meaning that we could create a new rocket engine in three to four days, which is a huge advantage as we scale rocket development over time. The other big leap forward with this rocket engine is that it is the first commercial rocket engine designed to work with bio-propane, which is a clean-burning and renewable fuel.”

worlds largest 3d printed rocket orbex space forres 070219 400 full size
Orbex

The 3D-printed rocket was produced with input from several partners, included 3D-printing company SLM Solutions and bottled butane and propane provide Calor. The finished rocket, complete with 3D-0printed rocket engine, will stand around 56 feet. That’s only around one quarter the size of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, but more than capable of carrying out its mission.

“Prime is a two-stage rocket,” Larmour said. “The first stage of the rocket hasn’t been unveiled yet and will reside at the back of the stage 2 rocket, which was just revealed to the public. The objective of the first stage is to launch the rocket off the ground, and the second stage launches the rocket — and its payload of satellites — into Earth’s orbit. The small satellites that will be deployed will have a range of uses such as earth observation and communications applications, and are often deployed in constellations.”

Orbex is planning for its first launch to take place in Scotland in 2021. It has recruited Switzerland’s Astrocast SA as a customer to launch 10 nanosatellites in 2023 as part of its global Internet of Things (IoT) network.

Emerging Tech

NASA announces satellite projects to study the Sun using solar sailing

Small satellites can be used for all sorts of purposes, and NASA has been searching for ideas to push ahead the capabilities of the hardware. The agency has announced two new projects to demonstrate the potential of small satellites.
Emerging Tech

NASA wants to send two more missions to Mars to collect rock samples

With its Mars 2020 mission, NASA hopes to collect samples from the surface of the planet. The challenge is how to get those samples back to Earth. Now, NASA has revealed its plans for two followup missions to Mars.
Computing

Can Lakefield help Intel contend with efficient chips from mobile competitors?

The Intel Lakefield chip design is one of Intel's most intriguing developments in years. It combines high-performance cores with energy efficient ones for a mobile processor design that can do it all.
Emerging Tech

NASA wants your help developing autonomous robots to explore other worlds

NASA is asking for the public's help to create the robots which could one day explore the moon, Mars, and beyond. It has launched the second phase of its Space Robotics Challenge to develop autonomous functionalities of the robots.
Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is developing A.I. missiles that can choose their own targets

The U.S. military wants to equip itself with a new type of artificial intelligence-guided missile, which will use A.I. smarts to pursue its targets. Prototypes will be shown off in 2021.
News

UPS partners with TuSimple to test self-driving semi-trucks

UPS has been carrying truckloads of goods in self-driving semi-trucks since May. The vehicles are being tested in Arizona routes between Phoenix and Tucson for better service and efficiency for UPS delivery.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Racing drones and robotic ping pong trainers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

Astro the dog-inspired quadruped robot can sit, lie down, and… learn?

Move over Spot! Researchers from Florida Atlantic University have built a new dog robot called Astro. Thanks to deep learning technology, it promises to be able to learn just like a real dog.
Health & Fitness

We spit in a ton of test tubes to find the best and most unique DNA tests

DNA tests aren’t just limited to ancestry. You can test for your risks for certain diseases, the best workouts and diets for your health and fitness, and more.
Emerging Tech

Artificial tree promises to suck up as much air pollution as a small forest

Startup Biomitech has developed an artificial tree that it claims is capable of sucking up as much air pollution as 368 real trees. It could be a game-changer for cities with limited free space.
Emerging Tech

Mars 2020 rover now has a rotating array of drill bits for sampling Martian rock

Most the key components in the Mars 2020 rover are installed and ready to go. The next phase of construction was to install the bit carousel, an important mechanism for the gathering and sorting of samples from the Martian surface.
Emerging Tech

NASA selects landing site candidates for OSIRIS-Rex to sample asteroid Bennu

Last year, the OSIRIS-REx craft arrived at asteroid Bennu, from which it will collect a sample from the asteroid to be brought back to Earth. Now, the NASA team has selected four potential sites to choose from for the sampling mission.
Emerging Tech

Eric Geusz: Apple engineer by day, spaceship designer by night

An Apple software engineer by day, artist Eric Geusz spends his nights drawing everyday household objects as amazing, science fiction-style spaceships. Check out the impressive results.
Emerging Tech

The black hole at the center of our galaxy is flaring and no one knows why

At the heart of our galaxy lies a supermassive black hole, Sagittarius A*. Normally this giant monster is relatively docile, but recently it's been a hotbed of unexpected activity, rapidly glowing 75 times brighter than normal.