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UK Space Agency funds Pulsar Fusion to build nuclear-based space engine

6 December 2022
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Pulsar Fusion, a UK rocket company that has seen its advanced space engines tested in the UK and Switzerland earlier this year, has been awarded funding from the UK Space Agency to develop ‘Integrated nuclear fission-based power systems for electric propulsion’

The project will be supported by Southampton and Cambridge Universities and Nuclear AMRC.

Pulsar Fusion, based in Bletchley, Bucks., has its sights set on ultimately harnessing Nuclear Fusion for hyper - speed rocket technology. Pulsar however currently manufactures several types of advanced space rocket engines that are in use today. Amongst its creations is the largest and most powerful electric spacecraft engine in Europe which has been independently tested by the University of Southampton under another government funded scheme in 2021.

Pulsar believes its pioneering green rocket technologies could one day be the key to propelling spacecraft beyond the solar system.

Dr James Lambert, Head of Operations, said: “Pulsar has built and tested the most powerful electric propulsion engines in Europe. Combining this part of our propulsion portfolio with nuclear fission reactor technology is perfectly suited to the company’s skillsets and I am delighted that this has been recognized by the UKSA. The project will help us to build relationships and gather important data that will contribute towards our longer-term ambitions for nuclear fusion propulsion.

A series Rocket tests by Pulsar Fusion took place last November at the Cranfield Ordnance Test and Evaluation Centre (COTEC) - a Ministry of Defence military base in Salisbury, Wilts., and gained approval. These were followed by the successful international demonstration for space clients in Switzerland.

The company has demonstrated a mach-7, hybrid rocket engine which gave off impressive visual plume effects such as supersonic shock diamonds typical of a high temperature, high mass flow rate rocket exhaust.

Pulsar Fusion received UK government funding in September 2021 to further develop Hall Effect Thruster, or HET, plasma satellite engines, capable of 20km-per-second particle exhaust speeds. These Pulsar thrusters were recently tested at the Harwell Science and Innovation Campus in Oxfordshire, where they withstood 20 g-force of vibration, accurately simulating a rocket launch. Pulsar is now seeking perform a In Orbit Demonstration tests on these engines.

 


Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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