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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Gibson MSP

Glasgow University Builds First Self-eating Rocket, Boosting Scotland's Reputation in the Space Industry


Engineers from the University of Glasgow have developed and tested the first unsupported autophage rocket engine capable of flying beyond the Earth’s atmosphere.


The ‘autophage’ - Latin for self-eating - engine uses parts of itself for fuel, enhancing both efficiency and sustainability in rocket propulsion.


It uses waste heat from combustion to melt plastic fuselage and feed it into itself as fuel, alongside other regular liquid propellants.


By consuming the fuselage, the engine named ‘Ouroborous-3’ could help deter space debris - an issue which could hamper future missions.


First patented in 1938, it was not until a research partnership between the University of Glasgow and Dnipro National University in Ukraine in 2018, that self-eating engine designs were fired in a controlled manner.


The team’s paper, titled ‘Investigation of the Operating Parameters and Performance of an Autophage, Hybrid Rocket Propulsion System’ was presented at the AIAA SciTech Forum on Wednesday 10 January in Orlando, Florida. The forum is the world's largest event for aerospace research, development, and technology.

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