ISRO Achieves Milestone with Successful Hot Testing of Additive Manufactured Liquid Rocket Engine

by Ashis Sinha

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) achieved a significant breakthrough as it successfully conducted a hot test of a liquid rocket engine manufactured using Additive Manufacturing (AM) technology.

The test, conducted on May 9, 2024, lasted for 665 seconds and marked a major milestone in space propulsion technology.

The engine tested was the PS4 engine, which is part of the PSLV upper stage. Traditionally, the PS4 engine has been manufactured using conventional machining and welding methods.

However, the engine redesigned for Additive Manufacturing, following the Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) concept, which brought several advantages.

The use of the Laser Powder Bed Fusion technique allowed for the engine to be manufactured as a single-piece, eliminating the need for 14 parts and 19 weld joints. This not only saved significantly on raw material usage (13.7 kg of metal powder compared to 565 kg of forgings and sheets) but also reduced the overall production time by 60%.

The manufacturing of the engine was carried out by M/s WIPRO 3D, an Indian industry partner, while the hot testing was conducted at ISRO Propulsion Complex, Mahendragiri. Prior to the full qualification test, the injector head of the engine was separately tested and validated.

During the development program, detailed flow and thermal modeling, structural simulation, and cold flow characterization were conducted to ensure the engine’s performance.

The engine underwent four successful developmental hot tests, totaling 74 seconds, which validated its performance parameters. The full qualification test of 665 seconds confirmed that all performance parameters were as expected.

With the successful completion of the hot test, ISRO plans to incorporate this Additive Manufactured PS4 engine into its regular PSLV program, marking a significant advancement in space propulsion technology in India.

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