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Montana man builds new fuel efficient rocket

Posted at 9:27 PM, Mar 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-02 23:34:55-05

A Whitefish company has created a new type of rocket for outer space that its owner believes could save on money and fuel, and the design has grabbed the attention of NASA.

Aaron Davis and Scott Stegman have created a brand-new type of rocket engine that's more fuel efficient and costs less than existing rockets.

Stegman, who is engineer and vice president of Whitefish-based Mars Engines, told MTN News that it's different than the rockets that are used now.

"Take any surrounding fluid. Meaning air, dust, could be water. It could be a dense atmosphere of a planet, a planet like Jupiter," said Stegman. "It use that to gain efficiency."

With a love for space and aeronautics, company founder and Whitefish resident Aaron Davis explained that the idea came to him, and he decided to see where it could lead.

"Just always been a passion of mine. Always been into aircraft, power plants," said Davis, who served in the Marine Corps from 1997 to 2001 in the third Marine Aircraft wing in Hamilton.

Davis told MTN News that Mars Engine rockets could drastically decrease the cost and the amount of fuel necessary to travel to space.

"Fuel, heat, oxidizer and fire and rockets have to carry all of that with them," said Davis. "So, if we could cut down on the amount of oxidizer- and perhaps the amount of fuel- to achieve orbit then that would significantly increase our ability, and the pay load we can get into orbit."

Stegman and Davis created the design for the rocket and tested it, which caught the eye of NASA. They've been in talks with the agency to figure out the next step for Mars Engines.

"We will be testing a large-scale cryogenic engine either this fall or this winter," said Davis. "And that will move us on from proof of concept to something we can deploy."

Stegman says this has been a dream come true.

"When I was a little kid, I guess, I loved rockets and the Air and Space Museum -- and I was a little science kid. So, for me it's kinda a dream come true to be involved in so cool," said Stegman.

Davis told MTN News he's hoping his invention can create jobs in the Flathead Valley and has plans to have the rocket assembled locally. "Having a factory that uses 3D printers that makes rockets would just be great. We could pipeline people from the colleges and the local community."

Davis and Stegman will continue testing on their second prototype later this year.