ISRO Achieves Milestone with 3D-Printed PS4 Rocket Engine Test


ISRO Achieves Milestone with 3D-Printed PS4 Rocket Engine Test
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), India’s premier space agency, has achieved a significant milestone with the successful completion of a prolonged trial for its 3D-printed rocket engine, derived from the PS4 engine utilized in the upper stage of the PSLV. This revamped engine, now consolidated into a single component, conserves 97% of raw materials and slashes manufacturing time by 60%.
ISRO accomplished a key milestone by successfully hot testing a liquid rocket engine produced using AM technology for 665 seconds. The PS4 engine, which was constructed using the traditional machining and welding process, is used in the fourth stage of PSLV and has a thrust of 7.33 kN in vacuum conditions. The same engine powers the Reaction Control System (RCS) of PSLV’s first stage (PS1).
Operating in pressure-fed mode, the engine employs earth-storable bipropellant combinations, utilizing Nitrogen Tetroxide as an oxidizer and Mono Methyl Hydrazine as fuel. Crafted by ISRO’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), the engine underwent reconstruction to align with the Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) principle, yielding remarkable advancements.
Employing the Laser Powder Bed Fusion technique, the process streamlined the components from 14 separate pieces to a single unit and eradicated 19 weld joints. This transformation led to a substantial decrease in raw material consumption per engine, with only 13.7 kg of metal powder utilized compared to 565 kg required for traditional forging and sheet methods. Moreover, it culminated in a noteworthy 60% reduction in the overall production timeframe.
The engine was manufactured in India by WIPRO 3D and hot tested at the ISRO Propulsion Complex in Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu. “As part of the development programme, the injector head of the engine was realised and successfully hot tested earlier. Detailed flow and thermal modeling, structural simulation, and cold flow characterization of the proto hardware were carried out to gain confidence for the hot test", according to the ISRO Press Statement.
Consequently, a series of four developmental hot tests were conducted on the integrated engine, totaling 74 seconds, affirming its adherence to performance specifications. Additionally, the engine underwent a successful full-scale qualification test lasting 665 seconds, with all performance parameters meeting expectations. ISRO has confirmed plans to integrate the PS4 3D-printed rocket engine into the regular PSLV program.