While space exploration may be attaining new heights, but still the size of rockets remain as they were in the 1950s. And, these rockets account for lot of waste, although reusable materials are increasingly more common. In a new development in the space field, the UK government will support the development of an autophage rocket engine, wherein the rocket would consume itself as fuel.
Constructed at the University of Glasgow, the autophage engine has numerous advantages. Firstly, it could be smaller. In fact, today, the size of the rockets is determined by their fuel carrying capacity. And, because an autophage works as its own fuel, it could be smaller. Meanwhile, scientists in the UK are vying for smaller rockets to be in line with smaller payloads. This is to create more opportunities for spaceports coming up across the northern regions of the UK. And, this is to offset the sites in the US and Kazakhstan that are more geared towards big rockets and big payloads.
Reduced waste advantage of autophage
Further, the advantage of autophage is reduced waste. This helps reduce waste and cut down the cost of space exploration, because mostly parts of rockets just strike into the ocean to become junk. And, autophage rockets do not land back on Earth. Instead, they burn up while distributing payloads to the low Earth orbit.
“Physically, a hybrid autophage rocket has a body of a tube of solid fuel, filled with a liquid oxidizer,” said one of the scientists of the project. Beginning with the bottom, the entire assembly will be consumed, done by an engine which will convert the fuel tube into vapor, add the oxidizer, and cause combustion of the mixture for the thrust.