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China completes first successful liquid rocket engine trial

By Li Sikun and Yang Kunyi (Global Times)    09:48, May 19, 2019

The first 80-ton liquid-oxygen methane engine in China, named "Tianque" (TQ-12), completed successfully its trial test on Friday, Landspace, an emerging private Chinese rocket company, told the Global Times.

This marks the first successful test of a liquid rocket engine in China's private aerospace industry, making "Tianque" the third liquid-oxygen methane engine to finish a full system trial test worldwide, following the SpaceX Raptor engine and the BE-4 engine from Blue Origin in the US.

The "Tianque" engine was independently developed by Landspace. The engine was tested four times last week, with the longest test lasting 20 seconds. According to the company, the engine started and shutdown smoothly, keeping within stable parameters and performance of the engine fulfilling design requirements.

The "Tianque" engine is the most powerful double-cylinder liquid rocket engine in China. It is non-toxic and environmentally friendly, giving high performance at low cost. It also operates easily and can be reused. The ground-type engine is designed with a sea level thrust power of 67 tons and a vacuum thrust of 76 tons, and the vacuum engine has a vacuum thrust of 80 tons.

The engine can be equipped to the full range of rockets from small and medium rockets to the large "Zhuque" series of rockets. "This engine can cover a small rocket with a single engine down, and can cover medium-sized rockets and large rockets," said Ge Minghe, general manager of the R&D Department of Landspace. "The business value is large and the development difficulty is moderate, so the input-output ratio is high."

The success of the test demonstrates that private enterprises in China can carry out independent research and design of engines. With Landspace being the first company to complete the test process, Zhang Changwu, CEO of Landspace, said it marks a key technological breakthrough for the company, and also will help promote China's ability to compete in the space industry.

China is now the second country in the world to master large-thrust liquid oxygen methane rocket engine technology after the US, Xing Qiang, an expert from the Small Rocket Studio, told the Global Times. After SpaceX and Blue Origin, Landspace is the third private enterprise in the world to successfully develop a large-thrust liquid oxygen methane rocket engine. In the engine field, this marks the momentous moment China entered the top echelon of the world, Xing said.

In addition to Landspace, another private rocket company in China, iSpace, has also been making progress. The company's first carrier rocket has completed final assembly and will launch in early June, the company told the Global Times. The carrier rocket has a total length of 21 meters and a take-off mass of 31 tons, carrying seven payloads. It will be a carrier rocket with the biggest capacity ever independently designed by a Chinese private enterprise. A successful launch will mark the first orbital launch by Chinese private enterprises.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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