China has test-fired their new massive Solid fuel rocket engine that creates more propulsion options for the country’s growing space ventures. It was ignited on October 19 at a site near Xi’an City northern China for 115 seconds, which created a tremendous trail of flame and exhaust.
“It was not a missile, Solid fuel rocket was a space vehicle,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a regular press briefing.
The Solid fuel rocket engine was created by the Academy of Aerospace Solid Propulsion Technology (AASPT), belonging to the country’s main space contractor, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).
“For Solid fuel 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.
Solid fuel rocket however cannot be controlled in the same way, and once ignited they burn until all propellant is used up. They are however more simple than liquid rockets and offer their own advantages in cost and production.
Different from a liquid-fuelled engine, a Solid fuel rocket engine is powered by high-energy gunpowder, with the advantages of simple structure, flexible mobility and large instantaneous thrust.
The future booster Solid fuel rocket 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.
CASC said that the Solid fuel rocket engine would be used with heavy-lift rockets to meet the demands of space missions to the Moon, as well as deep space exploration. The country is developing Long March 9 and another large rocket that will ferry astronauts for crewed lunar missions.
The Solid fuel rocket engine’s motor measures 11.48 feet (3.5 meters) in diameter and has a maximum thrust of 500 tons powered by 150 tons of solid fuel.
“Testing is very successful. We have tested all the parameters including the 500-ton thrust that worked 115 seconds,” said Ren Quanbin, president of AASPT.
You can estimate the load of 500 tons from this that the average weight of an elephant is around five tons. In such a situation, China can carry a weight equal to the weight of about 100 elephants in space with this Solid fuel rocket.
“We are at the international advanced level in the field of large Solid fuel rocket engines. Next, we will develop a 1,000-ton Solid fuel rocket engine to provide stronger thrust for China’s carrier rockets in the future,” Ren told.
China has made big progress on solid propellant rockets in recent years, including the successful development and launch of the Long March 11, which can launch from land or sea. However the new Solid fuel rocket engine is much larger and could be added to launch vehicles to produce extra thrust.
China has announced its plans to create an aircraft that can transport 10 passengers from Shanghai to New York in just an hour by 2035. That means the aircraft would have to cruise 15 times the speed of sound with an air-breathing engine at a high altitude. But this will require a solid rocket engine for both take-off and landing.