China test-fired the world's largest solid-fueled rocket engine capable of generating 500 tons of thrust, or four times that of a liquid-fueled rocket engine. The country's largest space contractor said that an even larger engine that can produce 1,000 thrusts is also under development in China.
World's Largest Solid-Fueled Rocket Engine
Space.com reported that China has test-fired their new massive 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.
The 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).
The 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. CASC said in their statement that by far, this is the world's largest solid-fueled rocket engine and the most powerful one.
They added that the rocket engine boasts multiple cutting-edge technologies, such as a high-performance fiber composite shell, an oversized nozzle, and integral-casting combustion.
Ren Quanbin, president of AASPT, told Chinese state media CCTV that the test fire was a success. "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."
CASC said that the 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 ad another large rocket that will ferry astronauts for crewed lunar missions.
China Developing Solid-Fueled Rockets
According to SCMP, China has been developing a series of new solid-fuel rockets in recent years that can deliver a large number of small satellites in near-Earth orbit within hours.
Chinese scientists said that this small-lift vehicle will be intensely competitive and can transport 1.5 tons to an altitude of 500km, with an expected launch date in 2022.
Despite lagging behind their Western counterpart in developing solid-fuel rocket technology, Chinese scientists in recent years have achieved many technical advances relating to fuel efficiency, flight control, and engine reignition technology that will put them at par or perhaps even better than their competitors.
Researchers at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing said that the rapid development of solid-fuel rocket technology in the country is party because of the hypersonic weapons program. However, the military purposes for the technology are kept classified.
But 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.
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