China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp has developed the country's most powerful solid-propellant rocket engine which will be used in the new upgraded variant of the Long March 11.
“The engine is based on its predecessor, which is used with China's Long March 11 carrier rocket and features advanced composite materials built into its casing. The new engine will be used on the upgraded variant of Long March 11,” Wang Jianru, the new engine's chief designer was quoted by China Daily as saying.
The first ignition test of the engine was successfully completed on Tuesday, Academy of Aerospace Solid Propulsion Technology in Xi'an, Shaanxi province, which is a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp has announced.
The engine will provide more power to lift small satellites and also promising good competitiveness in the commercial launch market, according to the academy.
It has a diameter of 2.65 meters, contains 71 metric tons of solid propellant and produces 200 tons of thrust- making it the most powerful known solid-propellant engine in China. The engine that previously held that distinction is made by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp Fourth Academy in Wuhan, Hubei province, and produces 180 tons of thrust.
“Integrating the engine into the Long March 11 will enable the new model to transport a 1.5-ton satellite or multiple satellites with a combined weight of 1.5 tons, to a sun-synchronous orbit 700 kilometers high. The carrying capacity of the original Long March 11 for such orbits is 400 kilograms,” Jianru added.
Development of the new engine shows there are plans to diversify the launch portfolio of Long March 11 to turn it from a single model into a family of models to enable it to meet different demands in the launch market.
The Long March 11 is a solid-fueled carrier rocket that has been used for six flights from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China. The rocket is mainly used for lifting small satellites to sun-synchronous orbit. It will fulfill four missions this year, including the nation's first sea-based launch, which will take place in the Yellow Sea, according to plans of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp.