Nuclear fusion power could propel future astronauts to the Red Planet. Pulsar Fusion, a nuclear fusion company, based in Bletchley, United Kingdom, has developed and successfully tested its first launch capable, high-power chemical rocket engine.
The first static test on a hybrid rocket engine was conducted in Salisbury at a Ministry of Defence military base. The company also released a video of the firing, captured at 40,000 frames per second.
Pulsar Fusion’s hybrid rocket engine is powered by a mixture of liquid nitrous oxide (N2O) and high-density polyethylene (HPDE) fuel and oxygen. This type of propellant is considered greener and has a high specific impulse. The new model enables Pulsar to manufacture these compact rocket engines with record lead times. The liquid hydrogen is fed under a regulated pressure oxidizer through a control valve into a combustion chamber containing a technology as proprietary.
In September 2021, Pulsar Fusion received UK government funding to further develop its HET (Hall Effect Thruster) plasma satellite engines, capable of 20km/second particle exhaust speeds. Pulsar hopes to carry out in-orbit demonstrations of the engines soon.
Following the recent test, the company plans to conduct an international demonstration of its technology for space clients in Switzerland. The engine could be used in a variety of applications, from launching people and payloads into space. However, the company‘s ultimate goal is to develop a hyper-speed propulsion engine using nuclear fusion technologies for interplanetary travel, which scientists say could cut the journey time to Mars in half. The first prototype of a nuclear fusion propulsion engine is expected to be tested in 2025.