The first internal combustion engine to operate in the space will be this six-in-line

A internal combustion engine does not have any meaning outside of our planet, right? Although use fuels different, they all require mixing with oxygen, to produce the controlled explosion that will end up moving the crankshaft, producing movement. In space there is no oxygen, only a cold emptiness. Against all odds, Roush Fenway Racing – a team of NASCAR – is developing a six-cylinder in-line, which will serve to feed electricity to space vehicles. There are many questions and we have answers.

The function of this engine is to generate electricity for on-board systems of the rocket Delta and Atlas.

This engine is part of the program IVF (Integrated Vehicle Fluids) of the United Launch Alliance (ULA). This joint-venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing is a rival of SpaceX, whose goal is the actual transportation of cargo to the space, working mainly for government agencies and as a subcontract of NASA. The program IVF seeks to simplify the propulsion of the rocket needed to escape the earth’s atmosphere, until now compounds through different phases of propulsion fuels, liquids, and solids.

ula-delta-satelitegreatly Simplifying the objectives of the program IVF, what they want in the ULA is to reduce the number of fuels to just two: hydrogen and oxygen. With these two fuels and electricity, they want that a rocket can go to space, and to put their cargo into orbit, or even to dock at the International Space Station. So that the aircraft can operate with hydrogen and oxygen as fuels, are needed pumps, heaters, and a lot of electronics. All of these systems consume a multitude of electricity.

Cubic 600 cc and develops 26 HP operating with hydrogen as fuel.

And there is where it enters the motor that Roush Fenway Racing is developing. It is a six-cylinder in-line small and only 600 cc of a cylinder capacity. Don’t think the 6L of a BMW M4, think rather in an engine halfway between a motorcycle and a Toyota Prius. The goal of this engine is to serve only as a power generator for the systems of rockets, Atlas and Delta. The propellant is fed liquid hydrogen as a fuel, and oxygen from tanks on board.

roush-motor-espacioThis small motor of 0.6 liters and four times generates a power of about 26 BHP of power. The engine just measures 700 mm long, and its weight is just 50 kg thanks to the use of lightweight materials. Everything is built with tolerances aerospace, with materials of the highest quality and cost. Interestingly, some parts are shared with conventional engines: the coils are identical to those used by the 5.3 V8 from General Motors, and both spark plugs as the stems of the pistons are of commercial origin.

Shares some components with the 5.3 V8 from General Motors, as used in their big pick-up.

the design of The engine is type, flat-head, with its spark plug inserted in one end of the block. It is an old design, which reminds us to some classics before the 60’s. Of course, this engine stationary uses an advanced electronic control system to regulate the fuel mixture, as well as a cooling system integrated with the systems of the aircraft. The engine is designed for run for extended periods of time max speed – 8,000 rpm – and it uses a special oil for long life.

roush-motor-espacio-4The possibilities offered by the propulsion IVF – this motor is only an auxiliary system – are very large. As much oxygen as hydrogen is fuel of easy refuelling, and out of the atmosphere their use is more efficient than current fuels. In combination with solar electric propulsion, should greatly increase the autonomy of spacecraft, allowing the exploration and colonization of worlds beyond. Yes, it seems that we have colonized Mars, and we started the article talking about engines.

Source: Jalopnik | ULA