Test Firing The Largest Amateur-built Liquid Fuel Rocket Engine

Last April, we caught wind of a very impressive rocket engine being built by Copenhagen Suborbitals. That engine was on the test pad this weekend, and the video is incredible (skip to 20:30 for the actual test). The Copenhagen Suborbitals team pulled off a successful test firing of their 65 kilo Newton alcohol and liquid Oxygen-fueled rocket.

When last we saw the TM65 engine, it was sitting on the design floor of the Copenhagen Suborbitals workspace. The plan was to fire the engine using alcohol fuel and LOX pressurized by Helium, but that plan was changed to use Nitrogen as the pressurant. The static test was an immensely successful demonstration of the engine, but unfortunately the chamber pressure (and therefore thrust) was a little low meaning the team will be moving back to Helium for the next test.

Thanks to the very successful test of the TM65, Copenhagen Suborbitals may be launching their HEAT booster later this year possibly carrying their new space capsule. Even if it’s only a crash test dummy that will make the ride into space, we can’t wait for the video of the flight.

Check out a few more (abridged) videos of the TM65 test firing after the break.



11 thoughts on “Test Firing The Largest Amateur-built Liquid Fuel Rocket Engine

  1. A little correction:
    The plan for this year does not include any HEAT launches. But there are 5 other launches planned for this summer!

    SMARAGD-1 & 2. These are two stage rockets for testing separation and high-altitude communication. Estimated apogee is 8 and 20-30km respectively.

    Then the LES will launch the new capsule. The LES is the emergency abort rocket and can only pull the capsule about 1 km up. This is to test the LES system and the parachutes+recovery for the capsule.

    Finally SAPPHIRE-1 & 2 will fly to 8-10km testing active guidance.

    It is going to be really exciting :-)

    1. Yes, I seem to remember that they lost 40-50% of the thrust because of the low nitrogen pressure.

      They will re-work the high pressure system using helium… and then turn it up to 125%

      Try to run this http://ing.dk/artikel/130150-naeste-omgang-tm65-nu-med-125–trykkraft through Google translate for all the details…

      This will not happen until after all the launches this summer. I was there at the last test, and just trying to imagine 2-3 times the sound and steam. Wow, that will be a fun test!

    1. I believe it’s because they launch from water. Alcohol will disperse and not burn if spilled onto water.
      Kerosene will happily form a nice big burning puddle on top of water. Not ideal if you also have a big LOX container on your vessel.

  2. Well that’s satisfied my need for IMPRESSIVE for the whole day! Great work guys and a brilliant step along the path towards a useful motor.
    Good luck ironing out those little problems, I’m sure you’ll do it.
    Makes MY efforts seem pathetic! ;)

  3. Seems like none of these guys have bothered to dig up old copies of the 1950’s to 1970’s space industry periodicals. They were full of articles explaining how it all worked, and a bit of reading might save a lot of work.

    We had hundreds of companies and thousands of “professional hobbyists” working at these places, and they blogged about all of it in these old magazines – with articles from guys who read azimov and heinlein and (numerous older luminaries), and guest articles by those fun-loving germans from operation paperclip.

    If you ever get a chance to visit a research library with a decent collection that wasn’t gutted “for reasons of something or another”, go read some of these pre-nasa space periodicals.

    No BS, just simple and concise practical science, understandable principles and a lot of very hard math… often shown as a graph for those of us who can’t dream in numbers.

    I hope the chinese announce or get a manned base on the moon, as that seems like the only way we’re going to get to mars within my lifetime.

    Spoiler: Prometheus started out great, but in the last two reels it turns into a half-assed prequel to alien. Seriously. The actress who plays the female protagonist was selected because she somewhat resembles sigourney weaver when she’s wet. Go see “moonrise kingdom” instead.

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