One of the most interesting objects on display at Space Access â€™11 was a full-scale rocket engine from a little-known company called DARMA Technology. A transplant from South Korea, the Denver-based company is marketing the engine as having performance close to that of the HL-10 upper stage, but at a fraction at the cost.
The reusable Chase-10 engine is powered by liquid-oxygen (LOX) and methane and has a thrust of 22,000 lbs., somewhat lower than the RL-10â€™s 24,750 lbs of thrust. In its promotional material, the company says the rocket has a simple, robust design built with advanced manufacturing techniques that make it an affordable alternative to other engines in its class. The engine is reusable with a lifespan estimated at 10,000 seconds.
DARMA is marketing it for $3 million apiece, which company officials say is almost 13 times lower than the $38 million cost for an RL-10 rocket used in the second stages of United Launch Allianceâ€™s Atlas V and Delta IV boosters. The RL-10 is built by Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne and originally flew in 1959.