15 test runs, 30 ignitions: China’s reusable rocket engine development breaks record

The reusable rocket engine during its first test run, November 26, 2022. /CFP

The reusable rocket engine during its first test run, November 26, 2022. /CFP

China has made new progress in the development of reusable rocket with the main engine setting a new record in the number of repeated test runs, China Media Group reported on Sunday, citing the developer the Academy of Aerospace Propulsion Technology.

The 130-tonne reusable liquid oxygen-kerosene engine recently completed two ground ignition tests, totaling 15 repeated test runs and 30 ignitions with a cumulative test duration exceeding 3,900 seconds.

The developer said the number of the engine’s repeated tests has broken the record of the country’s liquid rocket engines, laying a foundation for the subsequent initial flight of the reusable launch vehicle.

The type of engine, known for its high comprehensive performance, strong expansion capacity and high reliability, will serve as the main power of China’s reusable carrier rockets.

Compared to traditional one-time rockets, reusable rockets will feature four key technologies, namely precise landing, stable recovery, high durability and fast repair. 

To apply the reusable function, the rocket should be able to return to Earth after completing the delivery task, igniting again when it’s close to the ground, and perform another launch task after simple repairs.

Efforts in research and development design, production, and test runs have been made to push forward the progress of the domestic reusable rocket engine development.