Our first test day — E-1 Igniter Hot Fire

Friday, June 23, 2017: We completed the setup of our test facility on the site of the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant in Calverton, NY (Long Island). This is where F-14 Tomcats were built by Northrop Grumman. Now, it is the site of Launcher’s 3D-printed rocket engine testing facility.

The Calverton airfield features a 10,000-foot-long runway.

The goal of the day was to perform our first ever hot fire of any kind as a rocket company.

We planned to fire the 3D-printed augmented spark igniter for Engine-1 via remote control. While very small, it is a key piece of Engine-1 and is in its own right a small rocket motor ignited by a spark plug. Built using 3D-printed Inconel 718, the propellants are gaseous oxygen (GOX) and kerosene. It is expected to generate 5 pound-force (lbf) of thrust.

Igniter for Launcher Engine-1. It screws into the center of the injector and fires inside the combustion chamber of Engine-1

The test also brought together more than twenty systems and marked the final integration of the many pieces of software and electronics for control, measurement, and safety that we have been developing during the last few months in preparation for our future Engine-1 firing (expected later this summer).

Our protection wall and test cell container.
Command container. Our control room is situated at a safe distance of more than 600 feet from the test cell.
In Command, we can remotely control and monitor sensors on the test stand, activate warning and safety devices, and monitor the surroundings and test cell container with more than 15 cameras and microphones. We also have a live-streaming capability.
The team can monitor all the cameras and control and monitor the stand directly from their desks.
‘The Ranch’ container — changing room and green room.
KERO container — storage for Jet-A kerosene.
The three containers in the test cell area (in addition to Command): TACO (networking/video equipment hub), LOX (liquid oxygen storage), and CELL (the actual test stand container). Also shown is our concrete protection wall.
Launcher’s team setting up the E-1 Igniter test stand electronics, sensors, valves, fuel, gases, and video in preparation for the hot fire test.
Engine-1 Igniter first hot fire. Also, this was Launcher’s first ever hot fire of any kind.
Launcher’s first Mach diamonds can be seen in this photo . They are tiny but mark a symbolic milestone for us as a new rocket development company.

On future igniter testing days, we will be fine-tuning the performance, gathering more data and ensuring that we have full repeatability of our E-1 igniter firing at nominal performance and expected run time.

We will be sharing data and updates as we get closer to our 500 lbf thrust Engine-1 hot firing, and in the process, continue to make steady progress toward our 10-year goal to develop a commercial satellite launcher. We want to make low earth orbit more accessible to entrepreneurs and their customers.

Perfect end to the day.
Ad astra.

Photos and signage by our friends at

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