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Tech advance helps control descent of rocket debris
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Tech advance helps control descent of rocket debris
by Staff Writers
Beijing, China (SPX) Jun 13, 2023

China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALVT) in Beijing, has successfully tested a parachute-controlled descent system that could mitigate the risks and costs associated with rocket debris falling to Earth after a launch. This new advancement in rocketry was unveiled during a recent launch of a Long March 3B rocket.

Rocket debris, which can pose a threat to populated areas below a rocket's trajectory, has long been a challenging issue. It often forces local authorities to evacuate residents in case of potential danger from falling hazardous materials. However, a team of scientists and engineers at CALVT may have found a solution with their controllable parachute system.

The parachute system was put into action during a launch on May 17, fitted on one of the side boosters of the Long March 3B rocket. It was deployed at a predetermined altitude following the separation of the booster from the core stage of the rocket. This system enabled the booster to follow a planned descent path, eventually landing in a specific area that was considerably smaller - only 20 percent the size of prior debris landing zones, as per CALVT.

Zhang Yipu, the lead structural designer of the Long March 3 rocket fleet, shared details about the innovative system. It includes a range of advanced equipment, such as a large controllable parafoil and an integrated navigation and positioning system designed for rapid motion.

Before this, engineers from CALVT had performed two tests of a similar descent-control system during launches of the Long March 2C rockets.

Yang Yuguang, a Beijing-based senior space industry observer and the vice-chair of the International Astronautical Federation's space transportation committee, emphasized the importance of these descent control technologies. He explained that uncontrolled descent of rocket parts such as the first core stage and side boosters can lead to large-scale evacuations, which are both costly and energy-intensive.

According to Yang, implementing descent-control technologies will enhance safety for residents by limiting the potential impact areas of falling debris, typically spanning more than 1,000 square kilometers. Furthermore, it will significantly reduce associated costs.

He also highlighted a future possibility for the Chinese space industry, stating, "When Chinese rocket boosters can make controllable descent and landing within a very small, designated place, then our engineers will be able to recover and recycle them."

Related Links
China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology
Rocket Science News at Space-Travel.Com

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