Test firing a 3D-printed rocket engine…and watching it explode
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Test firing a 3D-printed rocket engine…and watching it explode

February 18, 2020

(upbeat, techno music) – Most people know SpaceX or
the United Launch Alliance, heavy-hitters in the space industry that launch big satellites on big rockets. – [Announcer] And the
liftoff of the Atlas V and NOAA’s GOES-S. – [Loren] But lately, a
growing number of startups have come on the scene
that just want to launch smaller satellites, so how do you do that? Well, you build a smaller rocket. Meet Launcher, a startup rocket company based out of Brooklyn, New York. Formed in March of
2017, the team is small, just four full-timers, and
this is where they test out their prototype rocket engine. A handful of shipping containers that sit on a quiet airstrip in
Long Island, New York. Leading the team is Max Haot. Similar to aerospace billionaires
Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, Max got his start in the Internet. He founded the video
streaming company Livestream before starting his own rocket venture. – Right now we’re a team
on a ten year journey to build a small satellite
delivery launch vehicle. We are testing and
developing our first engine which is called Engine-1. It’s actually the first one
we not flying that engine, but we using it to basically learn, and obviously also refine our 3D printing partners and the technology. – And what was your inspiration
for going into rockets? And why specifically small rockets? – Today there’s both a market
need for smaller launcher, but also developing a smaller
launcher is less funding, and actually, a more
realistic endeavor, and we know there is market demand, and we
strongly believe in our thesis, that even in ten years
there will be some demand. – [Loren] Thanks to the
miniaturization of electronics, mini satellites have become much smaller over the last decade. Probes don’t need to be
the size of a bus anymore. In fact, some can be
as small as a shoe box. The options for getting these satellites into orbit, however, are limited. And typically, small satellites hitch rides on larger rockets
carrying heavy payloads. But this means they don’t have priority over where they go in space. That’s why companies like Launcher want to focus solely on
launching small satellites. The team is currently working towards creating a four engine rocket that is 65 feet tall, and capable of getting 662 pounds of cargo into orbit. But that rocket doesn’t exist yet. Right now, Launcher is working with a 1:40th scale prototype of their engine, and they’ve invited us
to see it in action. What is today’s test, you guys are still very new into the testing process, right? So we’re seeing a very, like, one of the first tests, right? – So, as I mention, ten year journey it’s less than one year.
We’ve built a team. We’ve built all of this,
we’ve raised funding. We’ve built a test stand behind
and all the electronics system, and the software you’ll see in the control room, and
all the cameras to see this. And we’ve built our first engine. So, this engine has been fired
only two times successfully. Six second test each,
and today we’re doing a fifteen second test
because we have enough data to show that the cooling
is working as expected. Which means we can push it further. We hope, without the risk of any melting. – [Operator] LOX is
filled, lines pre-chilled. – Confirm, Luis. Turn on video cameras. – [Operator] Cameras on and running. – [Max] Brian, to return to command. Done. Clear area procedure. Siren, three, two, one. (siren blaring) – [Brian] Auto sequence started. – Thirty seconds. That’s quick. – [Brian] T-minus twenty five. T-minus twenty. Starting pressurization. (radio chatter) Pressing LOX, pressing kero. T-minus fifteen. Neither
tank good pressure. – [Operator] LOX confirmed pressed. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. (engine igniting) Abort! Abort! – [Brian] Flood, flood, flood, flood. (fire extinguishing) – I’m sorry, Loren! We are
as disappointed as you are! – [Loren] That was still a good show! – We didn’t hear it. Hopefully you’ll be back for the next one. – [Loren] Yeah, we’ll
just have to come back, that’s all we make. It definitely looks smokey. – Yeah, so, you can see
what’s going on there, the cables, the state of the cameras. – Just going for a moodier vibe. – Yes. You’ll see there’s a hole. – Oh, yeah, it definitely see that. – There you go. And you can see the line, this is the the line
for the liquid oxygen that uh– – [Loren] And there I see
your camera got lost. – [Max] Yeah, they’re
not rocket fire proof, we can replace them. – [Loren] Most things aren’t, so. Well, if you’ll have us we’d love to come back and try again maybe? – Yeah, of course!
We’ll be firing multiple times a week, and I
hope you can come back. – [Loren] I mean, that’s
what testings all about! (electronic music) The Launcher team has done a bunch of successful tests over
the past four months, and they’ve invited us back to hopefully see one of them this time! It’s going to be exciting! Even more exciting, the
weather is much nicer today. – [Max] Thank you for coming back! – How are you feeling about today? – Oh, we feel great, like since last time, as you know we had our
first and only failure. We had a lot of learnings,
which were great. We learned about kerosene contamination, and since then we had, this is today twenty fifth, I think it was the fourth or the third when you were here last time. – [Loren] The issue last time
was that the propellants, liquid oxygen and kerosene, mixed before they were supposed to, resulting in the fireball. Since then, Launcher has improved
their testing procedures, and the odds seem better today. For this test, Max and I decided to watch from behind the blast wall. (siring blaring) Not terrifying at all. – [Operator] Auto sequence started. – Okay, then press the button. – The button is pressed, it’s happening! – [Operator] Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. (engine igniting) (Max and Loren celebrating) – [Loren] Yay, we did it! Nicely done! That was awesome! – So, was that worth the trip? – Yeah, that was definitely! – Some people say it opens a
portal to other dimensions. (engine venting) – [Loren] Now that you’ve
done a couple dozen tests, what is the future like? Where do you see yourself having a fully realized engine in the
next couple of years? – Right now we’re moving all
of our, when we’re done here, all of our design time to our Engine-2 And we hope to be firing
it by the end of next year, turbo pump, and then the end of 2020 for the full engine assembly. – And then when is the
goal for the first launch? – So, our goal for commercial is 2026. We hope that we will be flying. At that point it will be two to three year before 2026.
– Okay, great. – So 2023, 2024. So, we see this growth,
we see that in 2026 more than 10,000 CubeSats a year will need to be launched, last year only 300 were launched. And we see a bunch of companies, there’s probably a hundred people around the world trying to do what we do. But if you look at any
startup, many will fail, many will not be there, and if the demand is what there will be in 2026 we think we will be in a really good spot. – [Loren] So, today was a success! But, there’s still hundreds of tests to go before Launcher is going
to send something to space. Still, it’s fascinating that we’re living in an era right now where small startups are even attempting things like this. Who knows what the landscape is gonna look like in the next decade? Do you love Verge Science Video? Well, we love making them! So, subscribe to see where we head next! Thanks for watching!

Only registered users can comment.

  1. The shipping container style engine tests looks just like how Copenhagen Suborbitals do their test firings! 😀
    It's exciting to see new, small companies tackle the industries that the big aerospace companies are unable to fill!

  2. I really like how innovative people like Elon Musk and Max Haot try their best to change humanity to a whole new level. Even if some of them turn out unsuccessful, the fact that they tried makes them great people

  3. This is so cool! I love new companies getting into the space industry. It doesn’t matter if one is a failure that’s all part of the research process.

  4. How do you launch smaller satellites?

    "You make smaller rockets ¯_(ツ)_/¯"


    (Super cool video as always with Loren 👍)

  5. Are there any companies that have considered building rockets that would be able to go to space drop off the satellites and then come back? And is it even possible? And if it is will it be more cost effective?

  6. More impressed with this vid than if it were successful. This shows that while we strive to reach perfection….things happen. AND?….they can correct what went wrong and then they can perfect their craft! I wish this company nothing but tbsuccess!.. (….hmm….wonder how much it would cost to get my own "private" satellite into space?…LoL!)

  7. Fantastic work Launcher and Verge! Love that the Verge team went back to get footage of a successful test.

  8. I’m jazzed that Launcher is adding another player to the space launch industry. But unless Verge is trying to produce Discovery Channel-like content, it’s unsettling to see the reporters enthusiasm. Does she see herself as an unbiased journalist, or as a show host? Didn’t seem very professional if her goal is journalistic objectivity.

  9. At the first part of the video I was thinking that why is she wearing winter clothes in June ?
    Found the answer at 5:48

  10. Space feels within reach right now more than ever! It feels like the times are changing RAPIDLY, and we're going to get to that future we always dreamed of soon (relatively speaking aha!)!!!

  11. I wonder how is this company going to approach the Kessler syndrome i.e. so many sattelites that they will get destroy and create more debris so that you can't even be in space.

  12. Is there a reason that cameras so close to the engine? In a larger test space and using more tele cameras(with greater magnification) installed far from engine can save them from destruction.

  13. While I admire their efforts I think they will lose out to reusability. Just like it's cheaper to charter a Jumbojet than to buy a small plane. A reusable large rocket will be cheaper than a expendable small rocket.

  14. Hey Bill? Did you put that plug back in?
    I told Tom to do it.
    So Tom says, what plug are you talking about?

  15. I think the Kessler Syndrome is a pretty big priority in the space economy, launching smaller satellites whitout a long-term large scale plan on the orbital configurations of these for tracking is a bad idea.

    Regardless, keep up the good work, we need more incentives on the market.

  16. This is great but for the size of the rocket the engine is too small, it lasts too short, the rocket will need 2-3 engine stages and to last a little long led if they want to get a satélite to space or orbit! I’m planing on starting mi rocket company too!

  17. But if there's money to be made in this, then SpaceX would just use a Draco engine to make a smaller rocket in the space of a week…? lol

  18. "After a few successful tests, we're sure we have enough data to push it to a higher temperature."

    Violently explodes.

  19. Someone needs to invent a way to collect all that junk were putting up there, seems like it will cause some sort of problem if anyone (rich enough) can just throw a satellite up in orbit. Cool technology though #movingcrazyfast

  20. If you want to check a Spanish company trying to do same but successfully

  21. Great video. I like that you showed a failure first. Failure and improvement is an inherent part of any engineering process.
    I'm just curious about that loud wailing siren just before the engine ignition. I've seen that before, on Mythbusters and some other shows, before any major explosion, despite the fact that there is only a few people around and everyone knows that an explosion is about to happen. Is that siren mandatory due to some safety regulation?

  22. Make a video about how aerospike engines work and people working on that tech and take a look at sabre engine as well… We need a new type of engine if space are to become the new frontier that it is. We need a paradigm shift.

  23. Cmon people, we don't need to design multi stage rockets and have smaller loads if we invest in aerospike engines!

  24. 12 men have walked on the moon and this guy is trying to reinvent the rocket engine? Fun to play with other peoples money.

  25. Would have been welcome to show some engine data, performance – you know just a hint! would have been useful for a viewer interested in rocket technology. Really, all we saw was a firework going off – or may as well have been.
    Though it was a pretty impressive firework. Could do better. 6/10. ;0)

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