Context: New Space Economy
The potential of Space 4.0 exploration for Italy, Europe and the world is enormous. Europe and the world are facing major global challenges which require equally global responses and imply responsibilities.
According to ESA definitions, Space 4.0 era is a time when space is evolving from being the preserve of the governments of a few Spacefaring nations to a situation in which there is an increased number of diverse space actors around the world, including the emergence of private companies, participation with academia, industry and citizens, digitisation, and global interaction.
Objective: Improve the Italian heritage of Liquid Rocket Engines
Project Efesto aims to contribute in a strategic, dynamic, and innovative way to the New Space Economy, playing a role in the European mission: to shape the development of Italy’s space capability, and ensure that investment in space continues to deliver benefits to the citizens of Europe
Liquid propulsion is a relatively new concept for Italy, originated thanks to AVIO's M10 engine development. In order to provide support to the Italian liquid rocket engine initiative, Polito Rocket Team's Project Efesto is developing the first Italian pressure-fed LOX Methane Liquid Rocket Engine.
Liquid rocket engines are known as one-mission engines. Nowadays, to reduce space pollution and cost per kg to orbit, important industries are focusing on the reusability of the first rocket stages. To pursue this goal, liquid rocket propulsion is one of the key factors.
PoliTo Rocket Team has chosen to fully develop a regenerative liquid rocket engine, in order to propose a small and reusable propulsion system for the first stages of a general micro launcher.
The thrust chamber of a high-performance bi-propellant liquid rocket engine is a critical component of the launch vehicle because it is designed to operate in some of the most severe conditions seen in engineering practice.
The requirement of reducing the temperature of the walls exposed to the hot gas can be met with high-thermal conductivity copper alloys, while mechanical stiffness is achieved by using high-strength steel or nickel alloys.
Because the stress-strain behaviour of a regeneratively-cooled thrust chamber is directly correlated with its temperature behaviour, it is of primary importance to select the correct alloys.
Thanks to the Politecnico R&D partnership, the Efesto Engine will be designed with some of the most recent copper-based metal matrix composite materials.
Nowadays, manufacturing processes are playing an important role in the global space industry, with a particular emphasis for space propulsion.
The Liquid Propulsion Project aims to produce the whole engine assembly via additive manufacturing. Thanks to this process, new geometries and potential mass optimization can be investigated, leading to novel design opportunities, cost reductions, and technological advancements.
Static fire qualification program
The Efesto engine under development is being designed to be tested with a new test bench facility. Qualifications and integrations will be performed to meet mission requirements and targets
The regenerative pressure-fed engine cycle can provide great results with more straightforward design efforts in comparison to more complex engine cycles, such as e-pump-fed or open engine cycles
LOX/bio-CH4 is the optimum compromise for power requirements, environment care, and modern trend