ISRO developing semi-cryogenic engine working on liquid oxygen kerosene

Bengaluru: ISRO on Monday said it is developing a 2,000 kN (kilonewton) thrust semi-cryogenic engine working on a Liquid Oxygen (LOX) Kerosene propellant combination for enhancing the payload capability of Launch Vehicle Mark-3 (LVM3) and for future launch vehicles.

Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) is the lead centre for the development of semi-cryogenic propulsion systems with the support of other launch vehicle centres of ISRO.

The successful ignition of a semi-cryo pre-burner is a major accomplishment of ISRO in the development of semi-cryogenic propulsion systems, the space agency said.

The first ignition trial of a semi-cryogenic pre-burner at its Isro Propulsion Complex (IPRC) in Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.

This achievement marks a crucial step in the development of a 2,000 kN thrust semi-cryogenic engine, which is set to enhance the payload capability of Isro’s Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III (LVM3) and power future launch vehicles.

The semi-cryogenic engine, being developed by Isro’s Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), utilizes a propellant combination of liquid oxygen (LOX) and refined kerosene (IsroSENE). This engine is designed to provide heavy-life capabiity┬áto Isro’s upcoming launch vehicles, including the Next Generation Launch Vehicle (NGLV).

The successful ignition test, conducted on May 2, 2024, at the newly dedicated Semi-Cryogenic Integrated Engine and Stage Test (SIET) facility, demonstrated the smooth and sustained ignition of the pre-burner, a critical component for the starting of the semi-cryogenic engine.

“The ignition process is one of the most critical parts in the development of liquid rocket engine systems,” Isro said in a statement. “With the successful ignition of the semi-cryo pre-burner, a major milestone in the semi-cryo engine development has been achieved.”

The ignition was achieved using a start fuel ampule, which combines Triethyle Alumnide and Triethyle Boron, a novel ignition system developed by Isro’s Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC). This is the first time this technology has been employed in Isro’s semi-cryogenic engine development.

The successful pre-burner ignition test paves the way for the next phase of development, which includes testing the engine powerfulhead and the fully integrated engine.

Additionally, the development of a semi-cryogenic stage with a propellant loading of 120 tons is also underway.

“The development of a semi-cryo stage with 120 tons of propellant loading is also under progress,” the Isro added.

The semi-cryogenic engine is a crucial component in Isro’s efforts to enhance the payload capacity of its launch vehicles, particularly the LVM3, which is currently powered by the Vikas engine.

The successful ignition test marks a significant milestone in Isro’s journey towards achieving self-reliance in the development of advanced propulsion systems for its space program.