Flight Demonstration of Pulse Detonation Engine Using Sounding Rocket S-520-31 in Space

Valentin Buyakofu, Ken Matsuoka, Koichi Matsuyama, Akira Kawasaki, Hiroaki Watanabe, Noboru Itouyama, Keisuke Goto, Kazuki Ishihara, Tomoyuki Noda, Jiro Kasahara, Akiko Matsuo, Ikkoh Funaki, Daisuke Nakata, Masaharu Uchiumi, Hiroto Habu, Shinsuke Takeuchi, Satoshi Arakawa, Junichi Masuda, Kenji Maehara, Tatsuro NakaoKazuhiko Yamada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


A detonation engine system is successfully demonstrated for the first time in space using sounding rocket S-520-31 of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency/Institute of Space Astronautical Science. Detailed flight results of an S-shaped pulse detonation engine (PDE) installed in the rocket are presented herein. The flight is conducted to confirm that the PDE and its system operate at scheduled sequences in space, confirm the reproducibility of the PDE cycle, and despin the rocket around its axis. It is confirmed that the PDE operated successfully for 14 cycles in space. The experimental plateau pressure of 2.0 0.1 MPais 80 3% of the calculated plateau pressure, which suggests that detonation occurred in 14 cycles. The pressure profiles of the cycles are similar, and the pressure integrals are 2.0 0.1 kN⋅ s∕m2, confirming the excellent reproducibility of the PDE cycle. A probability statistical approach assuming a Gaussian distribution is applied to determine the average angular acceleration difference between processes of the PDE operation, mixture supply, and oxygen supply. The results suggested that the PDE despun the rocket via the thrust produced via detonation combustion, which is consistent with a quasi-steady-state model with an accuracy of 101 15%.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)181-189
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Spacecraft and Rockets
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2023 Jan

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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