China’s self-developed solid rocket engine, featuring the world’s largest thrust, has had a successful test run, marking a substantial improvement to the payload of the country’s solid propellant rockets.
- China has test fired the world’s most powerful solid rocket engine
- Scientists say it is the first time a rocket engine’s gun powder load was more than 100 tons
- They will next aim to develop a 1,000-ton-thrust engine
The booster engine, with a diameter of 3.5 metres and a maximum thrust of 500 tons, powered by 150 tons of solid fuel, is the most powerful solid rocket engine.
Multiple cutting-edge technologies — for example, a high-performance fibre-composite shell, an integral-casting combustion chamber of high load and an oversized nozzle — make it a world-leading rocket engine.
“Today’s testing is very successful. We have tested all the parameters, including the 500-ton thrust that worked for 115 seconds,” said Ren Quanbin, president of the Fourth Research Institute of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the developer.
Different from a liquid-fuelled engine, a solid rocket engine is powered by high-energy gunpowder, with the advantages of simple structure, flexible mobility and large instantaneous thrust.
“For solid rocket engines, the gunpowder load was several hundred kilograms, several tons or dozens of tons,” said Yu Ying, head of the 7416 plant under the Fourth Research Institute.
“This is the first time to surpass 100 tons.”
The successful test run offers more power options for the development of carrier rockets, and is of great significance in promoting the development of the country’s large and heavy rockets.
Based on the newly tested booster engine, its developer has begun the study of the five-stage booster engine, the diameter of which can reach 3.5 meters and the thrust 1,000 tons.
“The test’s success meant that we have achieved substantial progress in improving the capability of our solid-propellant carrier rockets,” said Wang Jianru, the engine’s chief designer, as quoted by state media outlet China Daily.
The future booster engine is expected to be used in large and heavy rockets to meet various demands for launch vehicles during space missions like manned Moon landings and deep space exploration.
“We are at the international advanced level in the field of large solid rocket engines. Next, we will develop a 1,000-ton solid rocket engine to provide stronger thrust for China’s carrier rockets in the future,” said Dr Ren.
Earlier this week, China denied a report from the Financial Times that it tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in July, instead claiming it trialled a space vehicle.
“It was not a missile, it was a space vehicle,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular press briefing in Beijing when asked about the report.
It had been a “routine test” for the purpose of testing technology to reuse the vehicle, he added.
Last week, China launched a spacecraft carrying three astronauts to the core module of a future space station, where they are due to stay for six months, the longest duration in orbit for Chinese astronauts.