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ISRO terminates hot test for semi-cryogenic engine midway
The semi-cryogenic engine (pictured) employs a propellant mix of Liquid Oxygen (LOX) and Kerosene. The PHTA represents the initial hardware test within the larger engine development program.
ISRO terminates hot test for semi-cryogenic engine midway
by Simon Mansfield
Gerroa, Australia (SPX) Jul 04, 2023

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) recently experienced a hiccup in their semi-cryogenic engine development project. A scheduled hot test was halted midway due to unexpected engine performance.

On July 1, 2023, ISRO revealed that it had initiated the inaugural hot test on an intermediate configuration of the semi-cryogenic engine, designated as Power Head Test Article (PHTA). The test took place at the ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC) in Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.

ISRO's long-term goal is to create a 2000 kN (kilo Newton) thrust semi-cryogenic engine designed to power the booster stages of forthcoming launch vehicles.

The test initially progressed as anticipated, verifying the ignition and subsequent performance of the PHTA for 1.9 seconds. However, at the 2-second mark, a sudden surge in the turbine pressure, followed by a decrease in turbine speed, was detected. In response to this unforeseen development, ISRO opted to terminate the test as a safety measure.

ISRO explained, "At 2.0 seconds, an unanticipated spike in the turbine pressure and subsequent loss of turbine-speed was observed. As a precautionary step, the test was terminated. Analysis under progress would offer further understanding before proceeding with further hot-tests for longer duration."

The primary objective of the test was to assess the joint performance of crucial subsystems, such as the gas generator, turbo pumps, pre-burner, and control components. This was done by executing a brief, 4.5-second hot-firing. A primary focus was on the ignition and production of hot-gas within the pre-burner chamber, which propels the primary turbine driving the fuel and oxidizer pumps.

The semi-cryogenic engine employs a propellant mix of Liquid Oxygen (LOX) and Kerosene. The PHTA represents the initial hardware test within the larger engine development program.

The test was administered at a dedicated facility at IPRC, specifically designed for testing semi-cryogenic engines and stages. Testing of the PHTA commenced at this facility in May 2023. The findings from the truncated test and subsequent analysis will inform the approach to future hot-tests for extended durations.

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