Churchill Mk 2 was test fired successfully on the 7th, 13th, 14th and 15th October 2003.
7th October 2003 - Test #4
We successfully test fired the Churchill Mk 2 for the 4th time. The firing took place at 14:30 and resulted in a very successful burn. The exhaust plume looked much cleaner than in previous tests having very little black smoke. It would seem that the larger number of injectors promoted better mixing of the propellants.
13th October 2003 - Test #5
We set-up our equipment in record time and performed another successful test. This was another 15 seconds duration burn to see if the injector plate design, which had been unscathed by the first firing, would continue to work well. It did, and the both the engine and plate performed as before.
14th October 2003 - Test #6
We reassembled the engine, but BOC were unable to deliver the extra Lox we had ordered. We decided to proceed anyway and use up the Lox we had remaining in the Dewar. This meant that we would not be able to go for the long duration test firing as we had hoped. A new nitrogen purge system was installed successfully and we re-wired the new load cells and the new thermocouple. We performed an extra test of the purge tank during valve preparations which was the only other difference to our standard procedures. The system checked out perfectly and we were confident that this would greatly reduce the post firing heating on the engine and reduce the chance of further fire damage to our equipment.
15th October 2003 - Test #7
With BOC now able to deliver a fresh supply of Lox we were all looking forward to the longest burn of the Churchill Mk 2 test series. Since we had already gathered plenty of test data from all the previous six firings, this test was now purely to see if the chamber (and injector plate) cooling would be good enough to withstand a much longer burn.
This firing was considered to be a test to destruction run. If anything went wrong we would know how long the engine would be capable of running for and we would gather some data on how our engines are likely to fail. We filled the propellant tanks, refitted the injector plate and prepared for the test.
By early afternoon we were ready.
The countdown was started and we released both the Lox and kerosene valves at T-minus one second. The engine lit almost immediately and ran for what seemed an eternity. Everything was looking good.
After about 50 seconds the kerosene levels were registering close to empty so I shut the engine down.
The system shut down normally, the purge worked and the test was a success.
The engine had run for a total of 53 seconds without any problems, we felt that we had well and truly tested this engine to its limits and it still looked useable after the firing.
At precisely 1.43 pm GMT 9th April 2003, Starchaser Industries Limited test fired their Churchill Mark 2 bi-propellant liquid rocket engine.
The liquid oxygen/kerosene powered system generated some 2,200 kilos of thrust for 15 seconds.
Liquid propulsion project leader Anthony Haynes said "The test was 100% successful, the engine performed exactly as predicted, we're now looking forward to firing the engine for longer periods of time and opening up the throttle for a full three tonnes of thrust".
Churchill 2, the largest engine of its kind to be fired in the UK in over 30 years will be tested exhaustively over the next few days.
In addition to valuable thrust data, temperature, chamber pressure and vibration sensor readings are also being recorded. Once validated, the Churchill Mark 2 will swing into full production: five of these engines will be installed into the Nova airframe and others will be used aboard the Thunderbird RLV in pursuit of the US $10 million X Prize.