China just test-fired a massive solid-fueled rocket

China has tested a new, massive solid rocket motor. This will allow for more propulsion options to support its growing space activities.
Tuesday, Oct. 19, was the day that the rocket motor was ignited at a location near Xi'an, north China. It fired for 115 seconds, leaving behind a trail of flames and exhaust.

The Academy of Aerospace Solid Propulsion Technology (AASPT), which is part of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the country's largest space contractor, developed the new motor.

It has a diameter 11.48 feet (3.5 meters)1 with a maximum thrust force of 1,00,000. This motor is powered by 330,000 lbs (150 tons) solid fuel. According to a CASC statement, it is the strongest solid rocket motor and has the highest thrust.

Related: China's latest space news

According to CASC, it also demonstrated multiple cutting-edge technologies. These include a high performance fiber composite shell and an integral-casting combustion engine chamber. It also has an oversized nozzle to make it an advanced rocket engine.

"Testing has been very successful. Ren Quanbin (president of AASPT) said that all parameters have been tested, including the 500-ton thrust which worked in 115 seconds.

"We are at an international advanced level in large solid rocket engines." Ren said that next, a 1,000-ton solid Rocket Engine will be developed to give China's future carrier rockets more thrust," Ren stated to CCTV.

CASC states that the rocket motor will be used in conjunction with heavy-lift rockets. This will allow for space missions such as crewed Moon landings or deep space exploration. China has already developed the Long March 9 rocket and another large rocket to launch astronauts on crewed lunar missions. Neither of these rockets have solid boosters.

China has made significant progress in solid propellant rockets over the past few years. This includes the launch of the Long March 11, a rocket that can be launched from either land or sea. AASPT also tested a solid engine with 3.2 m diameter in December 2020.

The new engine is larger and could be used to boost thrust on launch vehicles. It could be used by China Rocket, a commercial spinoff of CASC that develops Jielong solid rockets to launch commercial satellites.

China also plans to launch its first rocket that combines liquid propellant core stage with solid side boosters. The Long March 6A could be launched before the end the year.

CASIC is another huge Chinese state-owned enterprise, similar to CASC, and has its own space ambitions.

This is a time when many countries, including China, are working on reusable liquid propellant rockets. Once the first stages are done, the engines of these new launchers can be refueled to guide the second stage back to a landing spot and then burn again to perform a powered descent or vertical landing. This allows the rockets to be recovered and reused, which reduces launch costs.

However, solid rockets cannot be controlled the same way as liquid rockets and burn until they exhaust all of their propellant. These rockets are simpler than liquid rockets, and have their own benefits in terms of cost and production.

China's latest solid rocket motor. It isn't the most powerful or largest solid fuel engine, but it is still a great choice. Aerojet created and tested the SL-260 in the 1960s. 260 refers to the engine's diameter in inches or 21.60 ft (6.60 m).

This was intended to show NASA the feasibility of large SRMs being used for space exploration. However, it was not used.

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