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SpaceX and Blue Origin to be rivalled by UK firm with £200m ‘world-class’ investment | Science | News


Pulsar Fusion is a UK nuclear fusion company based in Bletchley, who have been developing high-power chemical rocket engines. Having recently completed their first test of a hybrid rocket engine in the UK, as well as testing a new green hybrid rocket in Switzerland, the company is now hoping to raise even more funding to take it to the next level.

Richard Dinan, Pulsar Fusion’s CEO told Express.co.uk: “Are we capable as a little company in the UK of rivalling companies like SpaceX and Blue Origin? Well, that depends on funding.

“We have an ambition to raise the best part of £200million in the next few years to build very significant tests and we don’t feel like there’s any reason that we should hand it over to an American company to do that.

“We want to show ourselves as not just a little British company, but a company that is capable of demonstrating this tech in Europe.”

Mr Dinan is hoping that Pulsar Fusion’s rockets will very soon be able to launch people into space, much like what we have been seeing from Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos’ companies.

The company received Government funding in September 2021 to further develop its HET (Hall Effect Thruster) plasma satellite engines, capable of 20km per second particle exhaust speeds.

Pulsar’s latest rocket launch in Switzerland saw the test of an engine that would be capable of launching a small rocket to an altitude of several 10s of km, well above UK airspace, or powering the upper stage of a rocket with a larger booster stage into orbit.

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The company chose Switzerland for the launch because it sees it as well placed to support advanced, environmentally friendly space technologies.

The company is hoping to demonstrate UK space technologies to international clients and believes that Switzerland is an ideal gateway.

They will now carry out further tests in the region in 2022 and invite European space clients to attend.

But what was special about this rocket launch, which took place on Saturday November 27, In the mountain town of Gstaad, was that it was partly fuelled with HDPE from recycled plastic.

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The green (non-toxic) hybrid rocket engine combusts nitrous oxide (N2O) oxidiser and high-density polyethene (HDPE) fuel and oxygen.

The HDPE can be obtained from recycled plastic and the two fuels burn together to produce a non-toxic plume.

Mr Dinan said, following the Swiss test: “British companies with space ambitions must be international and fast moving, achieving technological milestones on time and on budget whilst being environmentally conscious.

“Pulsar’s objective is to build world-class technologies that serve as a force for good.”

And last month, the team carried out a similar rocket test on British soil, when it blasted a high-power rocket engine into the sky from the COTEC, the Ministry of Defence military base in Salisbury.

Mr Dinan set his sights high for his future rockets, which he hopes can one day perform interplanetary travel, and believes that by building hyper-speed propulsion engine rocket using nuclear fusion technologies, it could slash the journey time to Mars in half.

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Mr Dinan told Epxress.co.uk: “We might be able to explore local planets to our Solar System if we have very high-powered nuclear rockets.

“This would mean that in our lifetime we could maybe find a new planet, maybe we could even find a bunch of lone planets instead of islands and if we could power it properly and know what population it takes and become a more caring species we can look after these.”

It comes as planetary scientists are starting to get excited about the potential of SpaceX’s new Starship rocket.

Jennifer Heldmann, from NASA, said: “Starship can bring unprecedented amounts of payload to Mars and elsewhere.

“Planetary scientists need to be thinking about how we can take advantage of this capability because it’s extraordinary. And if we want to take advantage of these opportunities, to have payloads on the uncrewed test flights, we need to get going.”





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