Fastrac (rocket engine)

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Fastrac MC-1
Country of origin United States
Manufacturer NASA
Application small, cheap, expendable rockets
Liquid-fuel engine
Propellant LOX / RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene)
Cycle gas-generator
Thrust (vac.) 60,000 lbf (270 kN)
Isp (vac.) 314 s (3.0 km/s)[1]
Length 2.13 m (7 ft 0 in)[2]
Diameter 1.22 m (4 ft 0 in)[2]
Dry weight less than 910 kg (2,010 lb)[3]

Fastrac or alternatively MC-1 engine was a pump-fed liquid rocket engine developed by NASA for use on small inexpensive, expendable rockets. Fastrac uses RP-1 kerosene and liquid oxygen as propellants in a gas-generator power cycle.

Ignition of engine was achieved via starter fluid injected into combustion chamber before kerosene was fed.

Propellants are fed via a single shaft, dual impeller turbo-pump.

The engine design used an inexpensive, expendable, ablatively cooled carbon fiber composite nozzle, and produced 60,000 lbf (285 kN) of thrust.

Engine system development testing of the MC-1 began in 1997 [4] and continued until the Fastrac program was cancelled 2001,[5] 48 tests were conducted on three engines using three separate test stands.[6]

The engine never flew, but with NASA's cooperation much of the MC-1 design and technology was adopted by the private corporation SpaceX for its Merlin 1A engine[7]

MC-1 later designation[edit]

After the cancellation of the FASTRAC program[when?] NASA tried to salvage this design for use in other rockets such as Rotary Rocket's Roton and Orbital's X-34 project. The designation of the rocket engine was changed from the Fastrac 60K to MC-1.


The basic principles of the Fastrac design (namely, a pintle injector and ablatively cooled chamber) lived on in SpaceX's Merlin 1A engine, which used a turbopump from the same subcontractor.[7] The Merlin-1A was somewhat larger engine with a thrust of 77,000 lbf (340 kN) versus 60,000 lbf (270 kN) for Fastrac. The same basic design was capable of much higher thrust levels after upgrading the turbopump. The latest variants of the Merlin-1D achieve 185,500 lbf (825 kN) of thrust as of April 2016, but is a regeneratively cooled engine.[8]

Engine specifications[edit]

  • Vacuum thrust: 60,000 lbf (270 kN)
  • Vacuum specific impulse: 314 s (3.0 kN·s/kg)
  • Chamber pressure:
  • Total mass flow: 91.90 kg/s
  • Gas generator pressure: 39.64 bar
  • Gas generator temperature: 888.89 K
  • Throat diameter: 0.22 m
  • Fuel: RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene)
  • Oxidizer: Liquid oxygen

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

  • Ballard, R.O.; Olive, T.: Development Status of the NASA MC-1 (Fastrac) Engine; AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit, 2000 Huntsville, AL, AIAA 2000-3898

External links[edit]