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

Keisuke Goto, Ken Matsuoka, Koichi Matsuyama, Akira Kawasaki, Hiroaki Watanabe, Noboru Itouyama, Kazuki Ishihara, Valentin Buyakofu, 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

9 Citations (Scopus)


To create a new flyable detonation propulsion system, a detonation engine system (DES) that can be stowed in sounding rocket S-520-31 has been developed. This paper focused on the first flight demonstration in the space environment of a DES-integrated rotating detonation engine (RDE) using S-520-31. The flight result was compared with ground-test data to validate its performance. In the flight experiment, the stable combustion of the annulus RDE with a plug-shaped inner nozzle was observed by onboard digital and analog cameras. With a time-averaged mass flow of 182 11 g∕s and an equivalence ratio of 1.2 0.2, the RDE generated a time-averaged thrust of 518 N and a specific impulse of 290 18 s, which is almost identical to the ideal value of constant pressure combustion. Due to the RDE combustion, the angular velocity increased by 5.7 deg ∕s in total, and the time-averaged torque from the rotational component of the exhaust during 6 s of operation was 0.26 N ⋅ m. The high-frequency sampling data identified the detonation frequency during the recorded time as 20 kHz in the flight, which was confirmed by the DES ground test through high-frequency sampling data analysis and high-speed video imaging.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273-285
Number of pages13
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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