April 22, 2024

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China overtakes NASA and SpaceX with the most powerful engine ever built

China overtakes NASA and SpaceX with the most powerful engine ever built

China just tested a new engine for its space fleet: a solid-fuel rocket with which it will produce a rocket Future Heavy Launcher For missions to the Moon and Mars. The engine places China in the same rating as NASA’s solid-fuel engines. In fact, the Chinese claim it’s the most powerful ever built in terms of spent fuel.

Solid fuel missiles are the key to the new SLS (Space Launch System) which will theoretically carry Artemis missions to the moon and Mars. Solid fuel rockets have also been an essential part of Space ship.

How it works

The The new Chinese engine – Tested by the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation and developed by the Academy of Aerospace Steel Propulsion Technology – Has 3.5m diameter. In its current form, it has a capacity of 150 tons of fuel.

China’s new solid fuel engine

The The test shown in the video below lasted for 115 seconds With a thrust of 500 tons. According to the China State Corporation, it is the most powerful solid rocket in the world, although looking at the numbers they seem to indicate thrust in terms of spent fuel and ignition time.

The Solid fuel engines NASA’s SLS is larger than the Chinese, – its diameter is 3.65 meters – and it has a higher thrust: 1632 tons of force at sea level. They are even stronger than the legendary Rocketdyne F-1 del Saturno V missile., which generated 690 tons of force. SpaceX’s Raptors generate just 185 tons.

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However, the SLS solid rocket can maintain this power for only 127 seconds despite containing 500 tons of fuel. In theory, if a Chinese missile has the same fuel capacity, it can maintain this thrust 383 seconds. In terms of spent fuel, the Chinese are by far the strongest in the world. That, in theory, means it could release tons more into space than NASA does.

The Chinese company says the key to its performance lies in the new technologies it has developed for its construction, which include a high-performance fiber tank, a new large nozzle and a one-piece vacuum combustion chamber. His next target, says the academy’s president, Rin Kwanbin, is a missile Twice the US fuel: 1,000 tons.

Do solid fuel missiles have a future?

Solid fuel engines have significant advantages over liquid fuel engines, but they also have their drawbacks. Displays Big boost of liquid fuels with a simpler design that also makes it Easier to maintain and operate– It does not require complex cooling and insulation systems for the latter. They are also not sensitive to pressure changes because solid fuel It does not expand as the rocket rises like a liquid.

Illustration of the structure of the SLS solid fuel rocket (NASA)

The design contains a file big negative point: The ignition of solid fuel rockets cannot be controlled. Fluids can be stopped and reset. This is how SpaceX reclaims its stages, restarting the engines in its fall to land softly on land or sea. Furthermore, they can be dangerous because, when permanently charged, they can accidentally explode if proper protocols are not followed.

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Solid fuel rockets are similar to fuel rockets. fireworks: Once they are on, they don’t stop until they have used up all their fuel. That’s why they’re ideal for adding in the first stage of a high-capacity launch system like the SLS or Ariane 4. These machines deliver a massive boost for a minute or two and then throw it over the sea.

Reuse feature

The ones NASA used for the Space Shuttle were reusable, but the recycling process was complicated and time-consuming (and their design had maintenance and design issues, as seen in the Challenger explosion). However, those in SpaceX son It can be reused easily. In fact, Elon Musk’s goal is to get to a point where the two Starship phases can be restored, refueled, and the ship ready for a new launch in A few hours after landing.

Musk’s idea is to reuse the entire spacecraft hours after it returns to Earth.

It remains to be seen whether or not this insight is possible, but what Musk has already shown is that his reuse strategy is working. The result is the launch cost A fraction of the cost Launched missiles such as the SLS (a recent estimate estimates that the SLS costs 1,000 times more per launch than SpaceX rockets).

In addition, MASK’s ships can easily be loaded onto Mars and the Moon, with a simple industrial infrastructure. Using solid fuel, this recharging process on other planets would be very difficult It is almost impossible to maintain and operate it.

Still, you have Great cheap engine With this batch and 1,000 tons of fuel, China will give a clear advantage to launch of large tonnage structures, Like his idea of ​​an interplanetary spacecraft with nuclear powered ion engines.

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