The engine, which is normally comprised of dozens of parts, consisted of only three additive-manufactured components: the entire injector and dome assembly; the combustion chamber; and a throat and nozzle section. The liquid oxygen/kerosene engine has a thrust of 5,000 pounds.
The tests were a key step in the development of a more cost-effective engine family for booster, upper-stage and in-space propulsion.
"The demonstration of this engine, made completely with additive manufacturing, is another significant milestone in our path to changing propulsion affordability," said Jay Littles, director of advanced launch propulsion programmes at Aerojet Rocketdyne. "We are not just making a stand-alone chamber or injector derived from traditional design approaches. Rather, we are integrating the full capability of additive manufacturing processes to evolve a proven, reliable, affordable design."
The team was able to reduce total design and manufacturing time from more than a year to a couple of months, and reduce the cost of the engine by approximately 65%.