The collective of Scottish and Ukrainian scientists managed to achieve a breakthrough in creating a control mechanism for a self-absorbing rocket fuel system. Unlike the classical scheme (a tank with fuel plus an engine), here the working substance for the engine is the rocket itself. Its body and internal elements are made of fuel components and are gradually burned in the engine during operation.
The new missile does not have a fuel tank, as such. Instead, the body consists of tank segments, which are made of solid fuel and filled with a liquid oxidizer. If they get into the combustion chamber of the engine, they warm up to 3200 ° C and turn into gases. A reactive jet is formed, which is ejected from the nozzle and gives the rocket acceleration.
When operating such a system, the basic principle is observed: as the flight progresses, the rocket retains acceleration, but it gets easier and less, which will allow it to reach space. There are no unnecessary steps that need to be reset, do not need bulky control systems, lower requirements for the security of nodes and components. No one will be able to risk and send cosmonauts on a self-igniting rocket, but to throw into the orbit a small satellite CubeSat at the price of only burnt fuel – this seems an interesting prospect.
In the course of laboratory tests, designers managed to achieve stable operation of the rocket for the time being only for 60 seconds. But they were convinced of the principal possibility of controllably supplying the segments of the hull to the combustion chamber, preserving the reliability of the entire structure. The next stage is the creation of a prototype that can fly in reality.