China advances in payload fairing technology

By Chu Daye Source:Global Times Published: 2019/7/10 18:23:41

A Long March-7 orbital launch vehicle carrying China's cargo spacecraft Tianzhou-1 is seen at its launch pad before it's scheduled launch in Wenchang, South China's Hainan Province. File photo: VCG

China successfully completed research on the world's largest separation airbag used by rockets, the Science and Technology Daily reported on Wednesday. 

A Chinese space expert told the Global Times that the breakthrough will create a link that constitute China's next-generation heavy-lift rocket. 

A research institute under the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp recently successfully tested the airbag, which is the world's longest, thickest and more resistant to high pressure. It will perform a key role in the payload fairing process during spaceflight.  

The new airbag is six times the length of the current airbag and three times as thick, the report said. It can resist four times as much pressure as the current model. 

The new part is designed to work with futuristic heavy-lift rockets. which have a bigger, heavier nose cone and are larger overall. This requires the airbag to be large enough to match the size of the rockets and sturdy enough to withstand the weight of the cones and the impact of the explosives that do the separation. 

Huang Zhicheng, an expert on space technology, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the new technology is meant for the Long March-9, China's most powerful rocket being developed now. 

"This is an important link among the various technological thresholds needed for such a heavy rocket," Huang said.

China's heavy-lift carrier rocket, the Long March-9, is expected to make its maiden flight around 2030 and will support manned lunar exploration, deep space exploration and construction of a space-based solar power plant. 

The diameter of the body of the Long March-9 rocket will be nearly 10 meters, according to media reports.

Researchers made a breakthrough in methodology to ensure the stability of the airbag textile and in the selection technique of the material. 

The successful research and development of the airbag will provide technological safeguards in the fairing process of Chinese heavy-haul carrier rockets, the Science and Technology Daily report said.


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