AR1 rocket engine. A similar multi-element injector built using additive manufacturing will be hot-fire tested this spring.
AR1 rocket engine. A similar multi-element injector built using additive manufacturing will be hot-fire tested this spring.

Aerojet Rocketdyne has completed hot-fire testing of a single-element main injector for the AR1 rocket engine that was completely built using additive manufacturing (AM).

The company aims to have a certified engine in production in 2019.

The AR1 is a 500,000 lbf thrust-class liquid oxygen/kerosene booster engine currently in development as an alternative to engines such as the Russian-built RD-180. The AR1 is designed to integrate with the Atlas V launch vehicle, as well as provide a versatile propulsion solution for multiple current and future launch vehicle applications. 

Cost reduction

The single-element main injector hot-fire tests were conducted to evaluate various main injector element designs and fabrication methods. Several injectors were fabricated using selective laser melting (SLM). Tested in excess of 2,000 psi, Aerojet Rocketdyne believes the AR1 single-element hot-fire tests represent the highest pressure hot-fire test of an additively-manufactured part in a rocket engine application. In the main injector, additive manufacturing offers the potential for a nine month reduction in part lead times, and a 70% reduction in cost.