China will complete construction and fitting work of a prototype of its 500-ton liquid rocket engine within this year, a senior executive from the country's main liquid rocket manufacturer announced on Monday.
Liu Zhirang, head of the No.6 Research Institute of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), who is also a deputy to the 13th National People's Congress, made the remarks on Monday, China's Science and Technology Daily reported.
Liu said China is currently tackling problems on key technologies of three types of liquid rocket engines for its heavy-lift rockets - they are the 500-ton engine fueled by liquid oxygen and kerosene, 200-ton and 25-ton engines using liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as fuel, and the country has also completed thermal tests on core modules together with some sub-models for the engines.
The three types of engines will be applied as different stages of thrusters for the country's heavy-lift launch vehicle and their performance is designed to reach world-leading levels, Liu said, adding that it is expected that the assembly and fitting work for the prototype of the 500-ton engine will be completed within 2018.
To move from the 120-ton engine to a 500-ton one is not simply an enlargement, but requires overcoming exponential growth in technological difficulties. For example, as the thrust power increases, new significant challenges surface such as issues related to its physical design, thermal resistance and conductive technologies among many others, Liu noted.
China's heavy-lift launch vehicles, the Long March rocket series, have completed seven successful missions in 2018, with the Long March-3B rocket launched on February 12 from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
2018 will see 36 launches of the Long March rocket series, with 14 missions carried out by Long March-3A rockets and six by Long March-2C rockets, according to the report.
The Long March-11, the only solid-fueled rocket in the Long March family, is also expected launched from the sea this year, according to China Central Television (CCTV) on March 2.
China will launch the Long March-5B carrier rocket into space in 2019, according to a spokesperson for the China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSEO).
The rocket will help carry the core module and experiment modules to China's space station.