Project Thor included the construction of the first TU Wien Space Team test stand and engine. It was designed for operation with ethanol as the fuel. First, compressed air and then oxygen-enriched compressed air (Nitrox) was used as the oxidizer. The project opened the era of liquid propulsion for the Space Team, which is a significant step for student teams. The maximum measured thrust of this system was only 70N even after the upgrade to the Proteus engine, but the aim was to demonstrate that the Space Team was able to design, build and safely operate machines of this complexity. The test stand was decommissioned in 2019 and replaced by the TS02-500N.
The early milestones of the project:
December 2017: The propulsion working group conducts the first test series on fuel atomization.
March 2018: After three months of building the LE-01 Thor engine, the first cold flow test (without ignition) is carried out. For safety reasons, a water / compressed air mixture is used first. With the help of a transparent back pressure chamber, the flow behavior can be observed and documented under realistic conditions.
April 2018: The first hot fire test with ethanol / compressed air is carried out. Then compressed air is replaced by the more oxidizing Nitrox.
March 2019: The new LE-02 Proteus engine is put into service. Due to its modular design, the engine is primarily intended to test various combustion chamber and injector designs.
In the further course of 2019, upgrades were added, and an improved sensor system as well as a possibility for thrust vector measurement were integrated. The latter was implemented using three load cells on which the engine is suspended and which record the forces that occur during the test. In addition, three piezoelectric pressure sensors were installed, which measure the fuel, oxidizer and combustion chamber pressures. With this equipment, the Space Team achieved the first stable combustion in late summer 2019.