Masten Achieves First Hot-Fire of Broadsword Rocket Engine

Masten Space Systems ©2016

Mojave, CA – On September 30, 2016, Masten Space Systems successfully concluded the 13-month design, build, and test period for the first development unit of the Broadsword 25 rocket engine, funded as a technology demonstration under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s Experimental Spaceplane (XS-1) program. This first phase of the engine development effort included commissioning Masten’s largest mobile engine test stand and firing of the company’s highest-thrust rocket engine to date.

The Broadsword 25 is a liquid oxygen- and liquid methane-propelled rocket engine with a full-throttle sea-level thrust rating of 25,000 lbf. Masten initiated development of the Broadsword in August 2015, as a cost-effective reusable engine suitable for use in both boost and upper-stage applications.

Broadsword employs a novel dual-expander cycle, which allows high efficiency at sea level while maintaining the benign turbomachinery conditions characteristic of traditional expander cycle engines. It is made primarily via additive manufacturing, or “3D printing”—a technology that enables complex design geometries, reduces part count by an order of magnitude, and compresses manufacturing times, all of which enable rapid engine development.

The goal of this initial hot-fire test campaign comprised ignition and startup sequence development. The effort concluded with demonstrating six successful engine starts. Masten has subsequently begun the design and build of a second development unit, incorporating lessons learned during manufacturing and testing, and plans to proceed with main-stage hot-fire testing in the next phase.

Masten aims to continue Broadsword development over the course of 2017 and 2018 in collaboration with NASA under the Tipping Point program, and anticipates moving into flight qualification after the conclusion of that effort.

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