China has successfully concluded a trial run on the most powerful rocket engine ever developed in the country, according to its developer China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).
The 500-tonne-thrust liquid oxygen/kerosene rocket engine is designed to power the Long March-9 rocket, the country's super-heavy carrier rocket that will likely become one of the world's largest and mightiest launch vehicles.
Friday's trial marks a breakthrough in China's rocket engine technologies, and will lay a solid foundation for the follow-up development of heavy-lift carrier rockets, said the CASC.
The new engine, with its design and management fully digitalized, provides three times the thrust of a 120-tonne-thrust liquid oxygen/kerosene high-pressure staged combustion engine, the company said.
The Long March-9 rocket, currently under development, is expected to enter service around 2030, Xu Hongliang, secretary-general of the China National Space Administration, said at the Wenchang International Aviation and Aerospace Forum held last November in Haikou, capital of south China's Hainan Province.
It will be crucial for China's ambitious space exploration plans including manned missions to the moon and a sample return mission from Mars.
The carrying capacity of the rocket will be more than five times that of the Long March-5, currently the most notable in China's rocket family in terms of size and power. It has been used in the country's Chang'e-5 lunar mission and Tianwen-1 Mars mission last year.
The CASC has estimated that about 10 Long March-9 rockets will be needed each year from 2030 to 2035 to meet the country's robust demand for heavy-lift rockets.