China Developing New Rocket Engines
China is advancing its space capabilities by developing staged combustion, an engine technology that is likely to offer greater performance for the Long March 6 and 7, two of a family of launchers that the country will field around the middle of the decade.
The smaller of the two, the Long March 6, may be the first to go into service, beating the flagship third member of the family, the Long March 5 heavy launcher.
A new 18-metric-ton-thrust engine â€œis a high-altitude liquid oxygen and kerosene engine with a staged combustion cycle and has been indigenously designed by China,â€ says national space contractor CASC.
If successfully executed, this technology would offer a high specific impulse, a key measure of rocket performance that compares the duration and level of thrust with the mass of fuel consumed in generating it. The practical result should be a greater payload to orbit for a launcher of a given size. The improved performance will probably be essential for Chinaâ€™s next generation of launchers to be competitive as the technology becomes increasingly common in the future.
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