Advances in rocket engine technology do not come along often, so it was noteworthy in October 2012 when Orbital Technologies flew a sounding rocket powered by its “vortex” engine, which injects fuel and liquid oxygen so the burning mixture does not touch the walls of the combustion chamber, allowing it to be thinner, lighter and cheaper. Oxidizer is injected at an angle that sets up a pair of coaxial vortices. Combustion occurs in the innermost swirl, the outer vortex protecting the chamber ...


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