In a major shot in the arm of country’s space technology, China will develop a new generation of rockets that can be launched into space from an aircraft. The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology has designed a solid-fuel rocket that could carry a 100 kg (220 lb) payload into low Earth orbit, the head of the agency’s carrier rocket development Li Tongyu told a state run Chinese daily.
The Y-20 strategic transport plane will be the carrier of these rockets. The jet will hold a rocket within its fuselage and release it at a certain altitude. The rocket will be ignited after it leaves the plane,” Li was quoted as saying by the Chinese daily.
Additionally, they are also planning to design a larger rocket that could carry 200 kg into orbit.
Rockets launched from aircraft are an alternative to more traditional ground-launched rockets. They have the benefit of being able to be launched quickly and precisely while preparation for ground launched rockets can take days, weeks or longer, in part because it takes so much time to pump in the fuel.
Each mission involving a solid-fuel rocket launched by a Y-20 would take only 12 hours of preparation to place a 200 kg satellite into a sun-synchronous orbit 700 km above Earth, Long Lehao, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said.