A CGI rendering of ISRO's powerful Semi-Cryogenic oxidiser-rich staged combustion cycle motor

by G Hari Kumar

According to officials familiar with the development, the Space Commission in June 2018 had given approval to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to develop a semi-cryogenic engine, which will increase the lifting capability of its GSLV Mk III rocket by one ton. 

ISRO chairman K Sivan said, “After a presentation before the Space Commission, ISRO has got the approval for developing the semi-cryogenic rocket stage. The deadline to develop this stage is 29 months. Once the stage is ready, the carrying capability of GSLV Mk III will increase from the existing four tons to five tons.” 

Explaining the project further, Dr. Sivan said, “GSLV MK III is a satellite launch vehicle which has three stages. Presently, the first stage is solid fuel based, second stage is liquid fuel based and the third stage is cryogenic stage which is based on super cooled liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen.  Once the semi-cryogenic stage is developed, we will simply replace the middle liquid fuel stage with the SCE-200. The rocket will retain the cryogenic upper stage. The semi-cryogenic engine for rockets will facilitate heavier payload capacity.  The new stage is likely to be an exact fit and the rocket will look like the earlier one from outside. With the increased capability, we don’t have to depend on foreign spaceports to launch our satellites weighing over 5 tons.”

Project Jasmine

ISRO's SCE-200 semi-cryogenic engine is an equivalent of the renowned Russian RD-191 engine in its characteristics and performance, it is intended for the second stage of the GSLV Mk-III rocket and also for the new-generation future ISRO booster dubbed the Unified Launch Vehicle, it is designed to operate at a lower, and thus safer, internal pressure. The SCE-200 is a single-chamber dual mode main engine with single burn, turbo-pump propellant supply system and application of LOX rich staged combustion technology. SCE stands for "semi-cryogenic," indicating the use of kerosene fuel (RP-1), which can be stored at regular atmospheric temperatures, and liquid oxygen, which requires cryogenic conditions to stay in liquid form. The "200" designation denotes the thrust of the engine.

As per Anatoly Zak, a Russian space expert reported that in 2017, the Ukrainian Yuzhmash factory was contracted to test, not the entire engine, but its critical components, including its gas generator and a turbo-pump, which was manufactured in India. The firings, apparently planned to be completed by 2019, will validate the quality of the ISRO manufactured components. The fully assembled engine, including the combustion chamber and the nozzle, would be tested in the bench facility at the Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre, Mahendragiri, Tamil Nadu.

Hari is a author, military enthusiast, cyber geek and an incurable patriot. Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IDN