Orbital Technologies Corp. (Orbitec) mounted a flight camera on the flight test vehicle it used Oct. 20 to demonstrate its new "vortex" rocket engine.
The results were spectacular, as you can see from this video posted on the company website (QuickTime plugin required).
Orbitec will use the results of this test as it develops a 30,000-lb.-thrust upper stage engine burning liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen. It is working with the Air Force Research Lab on the project, but the engine may also find a role for in-space propulsion on civil mission.
The vortex engine injects fuel at the top of the combustion chamber at an angle, and liquid oxygen at the bottom. The mixture spins as it burns, which holds it away from the chamber walls. As a result, the walls can be thinner, and don't need expensive cooling channels