LEAP 71’s AI-Designed Rocket Engine Passes First Hot-Fire Test

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Dubai tech-driven space innovator LEAP 71 successfully tested a 3D printed rocket engine designed entirely by an A.I. model called Noyron. This engine, made from copper, was designed autonomously without human help and then tested in the U.K., reducing design and production time. The Noyron TKL-5 rocket thruster, which uses liquid oxygen and kerosene, performed perfectly on the first try, producing 5 kN of thrust, generating the expected 20,000 horsepower, and completing all tests, including a long-duration burn.

The successful hot-fire test took place at Airborne Engineering‘s test site in Wescott, UK, where the engine was first tested for a short duration to confirm initial performance. After passing this test, it underwent a longer 12-second burn to prove its ability to maintain steady-state operation. Both tests showed the engine’s capability to handle the stress and heat of rocket propulsion.

“This is an important milestone for us, but also for the entire industry. We can now automatically create functional rocket thrusters and directly move to practical validation,” said aerospace engineer Josefine Lissner, co-founder and managing director of LEAP 71.

LEAP 71 co-founders Josefine Lissner and Lin Kayser. Image courtesy of LEAP 71.

From final specification to manufacturing, the design of the engine took less than two weeks. In traditional engineering, this task would take many months or even years. Each new engine iteration takes only minutes. Innovation in space propulsion is complex and costly. With our approach, we hope to make space more accessible for everyone.

From final specification to manufacturing, the design of LEAP 71’s engine took less than two weeks, which is fast. This process can take many months or even years in traditional rocket engineering. For example, SpaceX’s Merlin engine, which powers the Falcon 9 rockets, took several years from initial development to its first successful flight. The Merlin engine family development began in the early 2000s, with the first Falcon 1 flight happening in 2006.

Instead, LEAP 71’s use of the Noyron Computational Model provides rapid iteration and testing of engine designs. Each new iteration of the engine can be generated in minutes.​

LEAP 71’s Noyron TKL-5 rocket thruster. Image courtesy of LEAP 71.

LEAP 71 collaborated with several partners for this project. German metal 3D printing company AMCM printed the engine on its EOS M290 machine using a copper alloy (CuCrZr), a material known for its excellent thermal conductivity and ability to handle high temperatures, making it ideal for rocket engine components. The University of Sheffield handled post-processing and preparation for testing, and the hot fire was performed in June 2024.

Data from the test will help LEAP 71 further advance Noyron; however, the company is already working with leading aerospace companies in the U.S., Europe, and Asia to commercialize its rocket engines.

“Our company is at the forefront of the new field of Computational Engineering, where sophisticated machines can be designed without manual work,” indicated Lin Kayser, co-founder of LEAP 71. “The paradigm significantly accelerates the pace of innovation for real-world objects. The fact that the Noyron thruster operated nominally on the first try confirms that the approach is working. The method can be applied to any field of engineering.”

Post-test analysis of the engine showed it remained intact and fully functional. The University of Sheffield’s team disassembled the engine for inspection, confirming its robustness. This thorough examination provided valuable data for future designs and improving the Noyron model.

LEAP 71 works with customers all over the world to design products in fields ranging from aerospace and electric mobility to heat exchangers. It has even open-sourced a significant part of the technology stack, including PicoGK, a compact and robust geometry kernel that enables the creation of very complex physical objects.

LEAP 71’s Noyron TKL-5 rocket thruster. Image courtesy of LEAP 71.

Dubai has been making significant strides in the space industry. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has invested heavily in space exploration, with notable projects like the Hope Mars Mission, which successfully entered Mars’ orbit in 2021, and the Emirates Lunar Mission to study the Moon’s surface. Looking ahead, the UAE is planning an interplanetary mission to the asteroid belt, scheduled for 2028. This mission will build on the success and capabilities developed during the Hope Mars Mission, aiming to explore multiple asteroids and gain new insights into the formation and evolution of our solar system.

These projects, alongside the establishment of the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center and the UAE’s astronaut program, are key components of the nation’s broader strategy to become an important player in space exploration and to inspire future generations in STEM fields.

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