China tests new engine for huge Long March 9 lunar rocket

Chinese engineers have successfully fire tested a powerful new engine for the country’s planned super-heavy moon rocket.

According to the engine designer, the closed-cycle rocket engine uses liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen as fuel and can generate 25 tons of thrust, making it one of the most powerful such engines ever made.

The engine was designed (will open in a new tab) An institute specializing in liquid propulsion owned by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), China’s state-owned space contractor.

On the subject: The Long March family of Chinese missiles: history and photos

The new engine is about three times more powerful than China’s most powerful liquid hydrogen-oxygen upper stage engine currently.

It is assumed that the engine is designed to launch the third stage of the Chinese Long March-9 rocket. A booster is in development for missions to the Moon and even Mars, and could be compared to NASA’s legendary Saturn V rocket or larger versions of the US space agency’s huge new deep-space rocket, the Space Launch System.

The Long March 9 is currently expected to make its test flight around 2030 and be a one-off.

CASC has already made progress (will open in a new tab) while testing even larger and more powerful new engines for the Long March 9 first and second stages, meaning the new test is another step forward for China to greatly expand its space launch capabilities.

However, China is also considering upgrading and modifying its plans for the super-heavy missile to be reusable. New presentations of the Long March 9 reusable rocket concept by senior Chinese space officials come on the heels of progress made by SpaceX on reusable rockets and the huge new Starship system.

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