Rocket Crafters, Inc. (RCI) announced Wednesday it has been awarded a $542,600 research contract by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

Under the terms of the agreement, RCI is tasked to build and test a large-scale hybrid rocket engine using RCI’s patented Direct-Digital Advanced Rocket Technology (D-DART), the company stated.

During the eight-month period of performance, RCI aims to design, build, and test a 5,000 lbf peak thrust, throttle-capable hybrid rocket engine based on what the company referred to as a “potentially industry-disruptive rocket engine technology.”

Using advanced giant-scale additive manufacturing (also known as industrial 3D printing) equipment, RCI prints what it calls near-perfect fuel grains from proprietary high-energy polymer/additive formulas. These grains are designed to dually serve as the engine’s fuel source and combustion chamber.

Under the DARPA agreement, RCI aims to design, build, and throttle-test a flight-capable rocket motor using a custom static test oxidizer system mounted on a new hybrid rocket test stand to be constructed at Florida’s Space Coast. These tests seek to verify the hybrid rocket engine’s reliability and consistency while, at the same time, demonstrating throttling and emergency engine shutdown capabilities.

Using its unique hybrid rocket engine technology, Rocket Crafters is designing Intrepid-1,which it calls  the first in a family of safe, affordable hybrid-rocket-powered expendable launch vehicles dedicated to delivering small satellites and spacecraft to Earth orbit and beyond.