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The Kestrel engine is an LOX/RP-1 pressure-fed rocket engine. The Kestrel engine was developed in the 2000s by SpaceX for upper stage use on the Falcon 1 rocket.

Kestrel
SpaceX Kestrel engine2.gif
SpaceX Kestrel
Country of origin United States
First flight 2006
Last flight 2009
Designer Tom Mueller
Manufacturer SpaceX
Application upper stage boost
Liquid-fuel engine
Propellant LOX / RP-1
Cycle pressure fed
Performance
Thrust (vac.) 6,900 pounds-force (31 kN)
Thrust-to-weight ratio 65
Chamber pressure 135 pounds per square inch (930 kPa)
Isp (vac.) 317 seconds (3.11 km/s)
Dimensions
Dry weight 52 kilograms (115 lb)
References
References [1][2][3]
Kestrel engine test firing.

Kestrel was built around the same pintle architecture as the SpaceX Merlin engine but does not have a turbo-pump and is fed only by tank pressure.

Kestrel is ablatively cooled in the chamber and throat and radiatively cooled in the nozzle, which is fabricated from a high strength niobium alloy. As a metal, niobium is highly resistant to cracking compared to carbon-carbon. According to SpaceX, an impact from orbital debris or during stage separation might dent the metal but have no meaningful effect on engine performance.[4] Helium pressurant efficiency is substantially increased via a titanium heat exchanger on the ablative/niobium boundary.[5]

Thrust vector control is provided by electro-mechanical actuators on the engine dome for pitch and yaw. Roll control (and attitude control during coast phases) is provided by helium cold gas thrusters.

A TEA-TEB pyrophoric ignition system is used to provide multiple restart capability on the upper stage. In a multi-manifested mission, this design would allow for drop off at different altitudes and inclinations.

Kestrel 2Edit

Enhancements to the design of the original Kestrel engine were planned, called the Kestrel 2.[6]

The engine was planned to continue to be pressure-fed design, but was to have flown on a newly designed second stage that was to use Aluminium-lithium alloy 2195 rather than the 2014 Aluminum used in the Falcon 1 second stage.[6] Engine changes were to include tighter tolerances to improve consistency, higher Isp, and lighter weight.[7][needs update] The Kestrel 2 did not remain in active development after the Falcon 1 was replaced by the much larger Falcon 9 v1.0 which used an improved Merlin 1C for its upper stage.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Falcon 1 Users Guide" (PDF). SpaceX. 2008-09-28. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 1, 2008. 
  2. ^ spachelaunchreport.com - falcon
  3. ^ astronautix Archived 2013-12-16 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ Greg Zsidisin (23 March 2007). "SpaceX Confirms Stage Bump On Demoflight 2". Space Daily. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  5. ^ "Falcon 1 Flight Three Press Kit" (PDF). SpaceX. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-10-01. Retrieved 2008-09-30. 
  6. ^ a b Bjelde, Brian; Max Vozoff; Gwynne Shotwell (August 2007). "The Falcon 1 Launch Vehicle: Demonstration Flights, Status, Manifest, and Upgrade Path". 21st Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites (SSC07 ‐ III ‐ 6). Retrieved 2013-12-06. 
  7. ^ Bergin, Chris; Braddock Gaskill (2007-09-24). "Elon Musk Q and A - Updates SpaceX status on Falcon and Dragon". NASAspaceflight.com. Archived from the original on 2008-05-29. Retrieved 2008-06-16. 

External linksEdit