ISRO successfully tests new rocket propulsion system with hybrid engine

Unlike solid-solid or liquid-liquid combinations, a hybrid engine uses solid fuel and liquid oxidizer.

India’s national space agency is called the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), and its headquarters are in Bangalore. ISRO is India’s premier organization tasked with performing tasks related to space applications, space exploration and the advancement of related technologies.

The agency was founded in 1963 and since then it has supported civilian and military fields in various fields, such as disaster management, telemedicine, navigation and reconnaissance missions. Its programs and derived technologies have also made a significant contribution to the socio-economic and industrial development of India. The chairman of ISRO is the executive of the Department of Space (DOS), which is also under the direct control of the Prime Minister of India.

A hybrid engine that has been successfully tested by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) could lead to the development of a new propulsion system for future launchers. The Bengaluru-based space agency has claimed that the 30 kN hybrid motor tested at the ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC) at Mahendragiri in Tamil Nadu on Tuesday is stackable and upgradable.

The ISRO Liquid Propulsion Systems Center provided support for the test (LPSC). Liquid oxygen (LOX) served as the oxidizer and hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene (HTPB) served as the engine fuel. A hybrid engine uses solid fuel and a liquid oxidizer, as opposed to solid-solid or liquid-liquid combinations, it said. “Today’s (Tuesday) test of a 30kN hybrid engine showed sustained ignition and combustion for the expected 15 seconds. Engine performance was adequate,” according to an ISRO statement.

Ammonium perchlorate is the oxidizer used in conventional HTPB-based solid propellant rocket motors. Oxidizers provide the oxygen needed for combustion in rocket engines.

It was explained that the use of liquids facilitates throttling and that the management of the flow of LOX makes it possible to restart. Both HTPB and LOX are environmentally friendly, but LOX is safer to handle, according to ISRO. “The hybrid engine tested today (Tuesday) is scalable and stackable, potentially paving the way for a new propulsion system for future launchers,” he said.

The technology demonstration paves the way for hybrid-powered sounding rockets and an exciting platform for vertical landing experiments for depleted stage recovery, the VSSC said.

As part of refining the technology, ISRO will test it in a future sounding rocket launch.

Importance of the hybrid engine

Throttling, a term for controlling propellant flows via control valves, is aided by the hybrid engine’s use of fluids. Thus, in a liquid propellant rocket motor, throttling refers to the regulation of thrust.

The ability to restart the engine is made possible by controlling the flow of liquid oxygen. Both HTPB and liquid oxygen are green. However, handling liquid oxygen is safer.

The advantages of the hybrid engine include being a safe propulsion system, providing environmentally friendly propulsion, and being the throttle and the restart.

The hybrid engine is “scalable and stackable”, according to ISRO, and could pave the way for new propulsion technology for future launchers.

Chandrayan 3

In the first quarter of 2023, the launch of the Chandrayaan 3 is planned. The spacecraft will be a replica of the Chandrayaan 2 mission. It will only have a lander and a rover identical to those of Chandrayan-2. Although the spacecraft will not have an orbiter, its propulsion module will function as a communications relay satellite.

Read more: The Chandrayaan-2 orbiter makes the first observations of the global distribution of argon-40 in the Moon’s exosphere

Posted by: Riya Tayal

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