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Russia Offers Semi-CRYO Rocket Engine Tech To India
The onus now lies upon the Indian government to finalise the deal at the earliest so that the nation’s ‘Apollo moment’ does not remain a far-fetched dream
Amartya Sinha

At a time when the country is getting ready to send its first-ever human spaceflight mission into orbit by December, 2021, ISRO’s Chairman, Dr Kailasavadivoo Sivan has made a startling revelation to the mainstream media on India’s future endeavours in the domain. In an interview with IANS, he confirmed that Russia had finally offered the much-awaited semi-cryogenic rocket engine technology to India. “Russia is offering its semi-cryogenic engine technology to India under the ‘Make in India’ programme. The rocket engines could be made in India and used in our rockets,” Dr Sivan dropped the bombshell. When asked about a prospective partnership with Russia for sourcing of critical components for the upcoming Gaganyaan mission, he said, “The discussions are on. Nothing has been finalised. We have to see whether we need to buy their components. The components have to be suitable for us.” Meanwhile, Russia’s state-run space agency- Roscosmos has also sent out a press statement expressing its intent to collaborate with India in the spheres of piloted spaceflight, satellite navigation and engine technology.

The evolution of high-thrust engines

Semi-cryogenic engines hold the key towards the development of a fullfledged super-heavy lift capability. While traditional cryogenic boosters of rockets use liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen as fuel, semi-cryogenic engines burn liquid oxygen mixed with kerosene (refined petroleum) which provides more thrust in the vacuum of space. Semi-cryogenic boosters significantly increase a rocket’s range, velocity and payload capacity which gives the user the option of launching heavier payloads directly into higher orbits. While India started working on indigenous cryogenic engines since the mid-1990s under the technology denial regime, the country’s space programme has come a long way with the evolution of CE-7.5 and CE-20 engines.

CE-7.5 cryogenic engine

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September 2019