KiwiSpace unfortunately wasn't present at the Space Symposium, but other media coverage has revealed additional information and confirmed some of our analysis:
- The battery-powered pump, (Peter Beck) said, can be easily changed with software, making it far easier to modify. “It takes a really complex thermodynamic problem and turns it into software that’s infinitely tweakable,” (Source)
– This supports our suggestion that Rocket Lab will have finer-grained control over the propellant mix and make it easier to optimise the engine performance.
- Additive manufacturing allows the company to build a rocket engine in three days, versus a month for traditional approaches. (Source)
– We would also imagine that if the process becomes optimised so you just hit "print", then you can horizontally scale a large part of the production just by having multiple 3D printers. Certainly a 3-day turnaround on building an a rocket engine is certainly impressive.
- The The approach, says CEO Peter Beck, eliminates the complex valves and other plumbing required to use hot gas to turn turbomachinery, boosting efficiency from 50% for a typical gas generator cycle to 95%. (Source)
- Each Rutherford engine has two electric motors the size of a soda can, Beck says, one for each propellant. The small motors generate 50 hp while spinning at 40,000 rpm, “not a trivial problem,” (Peter Beck) says. (Source)