Russia successfully tested new hydrogen engines for ultralight launch vehicles and interorbital tugs

The National Technology Initiative platform reported that Russian scientists have successfully bench-tested new engines for ultralight launch vehicles and an interorbital tug. Creation of their flight samples is expected in 2025.

Development of the new engines is part of the plan to prepare the Cosmos 2.0 project, which is supposed to create capabilities to launch cargo up to 250 kilograms into Earth orbit.

“This year we conducted successful firing tests of a hydrogen low thrust liquid propulsion engine for a small orbital upper stage. It implements an innovative “gas + gas” scheme. For this purpose, a design scheme was developed and manufacturing technologies were perfected. Tests of the wide-range engine for launch vehicles, [в свою очередь]The tests showed the advantage of the developed scheme over the traditional liquid propellant rocket engine with a Laval nozzle at altitudes up to 20 km,” said Igor Volobuyev, general director of VNKh-Energo, which is testing the development together with the Baltic State Technical University Voenmeh named after D.F. Ustinov (St. Petersburg).

Volobuev explained that the advantage of the wide-range engine is that it can operate in modes close to the calculated ones both at the Earth’s surface and in airless space – the pressure at the nozzle cutoff is approximately equal to the pressure in the environment. Therefore, when flying in space, such an engine forms a compact jet that does not contaminate the structural elements and instruments of the satellite.

The development of small upper stages is necessary for the deployment of multi-satellite communications and remote sensing constellations, which will contribute to the country’s defense capabilities, and will also make data more accessible for agriculture, geodesy, mapping, and monitoring of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere.

“The engines are being created as part of a project to create a small upper stage or so-called space tug. So far, the developers plan to create experimental bench samples of the main systems – in 2023, a prototype of the small upper stage – in 2024, the flight commercial model – in 2025,” explained the press service of the NTI Platform.

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