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Firing Test of Reusable Rocket Engine RVT-7

A static firing test of the engine for the Reusable Rocket Vehicle Test (RVT) was carried out at the Rocket Test Center of Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co., Ltd (IHI) in Aioi, Hyogo Prefecture, from early to mid December, 2002. In order to realize a fully reusable rocket in the future, it is essential to develop an engine with high reliability and durability. For this reason, we have been improving the engine injector for the RVT. This was the first test to evaluate the performance of the engine with the new improved injector.

The test team consisted of 5 members from ISAS and 10 engineers and technicians from IHI. The ISAS members took a back seat in the early stages of the test as the IHI team played the main role. As we began to share all our wisdom, regardless of IHI or ISAS, to cope with the continual problems of the setup process, we found ourselves returning to the usual RVT ways, just like in Noshiro. We struggled everyday until we successfully fired the rocket and continued to work feverishly till late at night even after the test. We realized that we had managed all the planned test cases. We successfully obtained valuable engine performance data that will be useful in future tests. In addition, we learned many valuable lessons from the problems that kept occurring during the test period and the countermeasures we developed to solve them.

I would like to thank the IHI members who worked with us on the test and the ISAS experiment members who stayed late every night to perform data analysis. A further series of tests is planned: a pressure test of the composite material tank with actual liquid propellant; a static firing test after installing the engine tank on the experimental vehicle; and a test flight.

February 20, 2003