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What does this self-eating rocket use for fuel?

Answer: As the name implies, itself.

Illustration of a rocked surrounded by complex equations on a dark background with stars making a night sky.
Researchers from the University of Glasgow have designed a rocket that literally consumes itself for fuel. Essentially, it melts its plastic fuselage with waste heat from combustion and then feeds it into the combustion chamber to use as fuel. By the time the rocket has reached orbit, there’s basically nothing left of it.

While the idea for a self-consuming rocket originated in the 1930s, there hasn’t been much of a use case for it until recently. “The difficulty is that it has significant complexity and, until recently, there has been less of a business case for small payloads that are best served by autophage,” the university’s Patrick Harkness, a professor of exploration technology who led the project, told Gizmodo. “The concept has been around since the 1930s, with the idea that an infinitely staged rocket could be the most efficient way of reaching orbit.”

Called Ouroboros-3 after the ancient Egyptian symbol of a serpent consuming its own tail, the rocket was recently tested at the MachLab facility at Machrihanish Airbase. The team was able to manipulate the rocket’s burn, demonstrating that it could be controlled, throttled, restarted and pulsed. The next step is to use liquid oxidizers and a flight weight engine prototype.