Rocket Crafters Inc. has received a $542,600 contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop and test a large-scale hybrid rocket engine.
RCI said Tuesday it will use its Direct-Digital Advanced Rocket Technology to design, build and test a throttle-capable hybrid rocket engine with a thrust capacity of up to 5,000 pound-force.
The company plans to build on its previous research with lab-scale prototype engines and work with researchers from the Florida Institute of Technology under the eight-month contract.
RCI noted its initial tests showed a 97.5 percent thrust profile consistency, with no signs of combustion instability or vibration.
Hybrid rockets can be throttled and restarted and are believed to be cheaper and faster to develop than solid and liquid chemical rockets, the company added.
Government and industry researchers have sought to produce large-scale hybrid rocket engines but faced challenges with unstable thrust and excessive vibration.
RCI is currently designing its Intrepid-1 family of hybrid-rocket-powered expendable launch vehicles that will work to deploy small satellites and spacecraft into orbit.