China successfully tests accurate landing of rocket debris
by Staff Writers
Beijing (XNA) Jul 29, 2019
China has successfully tested the technology that can accurately control the landing site of falling rocket parts, making progress toward reusable launch vehicles in the future, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) said on Sunday.
The CASC said that the test was carried out following a Long March-2C rocket launched on Friday, and focused on grid fins which are like "wings" on rocket core part to increase precision in control of its landing location.
According to experts from the CASC, the rocket' flight trajectory is designed to avoid densely populated areas. But after completing the mission, the rocket debris falls under no control with a wide range of landing points which sometimes involve inhabited areas.
In order to ensure the safety of people's lives and property, the currently practice is to evacuate people to the safety zone before each mission, which is not only inconvenient for the local people, but increases the cost and task difficulty.
The success of the test is of great significance for improving China's inland rocket landing safety, minimizing the inconvenience to the local people, as well as promoting the follow-up development of carrier rockets' controllable recovery, soft landing and reuse, according to He Wei, an official with the CASC.
"The swinging grid fins were used to control the rocket debris' direction and attitude, much like the wings of the debris," said Cui Zhaoyun, the deputy chief designer of Long March-2C rocket. The landing site control of large and medium rockets is much more difficult than that of small rockets, he added.
China borrows SpaceX know-how to better guide rocket stages during landing
Beijing's expendable launch system Chang Zheng 2C (Long March 2C) that sent into orbit three Yaogan 30 satellites from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre on Friday, had grid fins that allowed for greater precision in control of the landing location during the first rocket stage.
The images of the rocket, published by Chinese media, sport among other things four grid fins mounted on the connector between the first and the second stages. As the stages separate after the launch, the connector with the lattice fins remain on the first stage making it possible to better steer the part of the rocket as it falls to Earth, having fulfilled its function.
The moment is clearly captured in videos posted to Chinese microblog Weibo, which focus on the first stage's vertical, well-guided descent to the planet's surface; and they quickly went viral on Twitter.
Meanwhile, the used stages of Chinese rockets regularly destroying buildings in the country are meanwhile a common subject of videos and general posts on Chinese social media.
Such lattice fins were first used for the above purpose by Elon Musk's aerospace company SpaceX to provide well-guided landing on Earth for Falcon 9's first stages. The entrepreneur and top engineer behind Tesla's and SpaceX's widely covered projects earlier applauded the PRC's national space programme reacting to the news about the country deorbiting its preliminary space lab Tiangong-2 (which means "heavenly place") designed as a test run for various technologies before a bigger space station is sent into orbit in 2020.
"This is actually a good thing btw. China is making amazing progress in space, rapidly iterating on rocket and space station technology. Great respect", Musk tweeted on 19 July.
Source: Xinhua News Agency
Source: RIA Novosti
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