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Russia successfully tested new hydrogen engines for ultralight launch vehicles and interorbital tug

The National Technology Initiative platform reported that Russian scientists have successfully conducted bench tests of new engines for ultralight launch vehicles and an interorbital tug. The creation of their flight models is expected in 2025.


The development of new engines is part of the preparation plan for the Cosmos 2.0 project, which involves the creation of capabilities for launching cargo up to 250 kilograms into near-Earth orbit.

“This year, we conducted successful fire tests of a hydrogen liquid thruster for a small orbital upper stage. It implements an innovative “gas + gas” scheme. For this, a constructive scheme was developed, manufacturing technologies were worked out. Tests of a wide-range engine for launch vehicles, [в свою очередь]showed the advantage in specific impulse of the developed scheme over the traditional liquid rocket engine with a Laval nozzle at altitudes up to 20 km “, – said Igor Volobuev, CEO of VNH-Energo, which, together with the Baltic State Technical University Voenmekh named after. D. F. Ustinova (St. Petersburg) tests the developments.

Volobuev explained that the advantage of a wide-range engine is that it can operate in modes close to the calculated ones, both at the Earth’s surface and in airless space – the pressure at the nozzle exit is approximately equal to the pressure in the environment. Therefore, when flying in space, such an engine forms a compact jet that does not pollute the satellite’s structural elements and instruments.

The development of small upper stages is necessary for the deployment of multi-satellite constellations of communications and remote sensing of the Earth, which will help strengthen the country’s defense capability, and will also make data more accessible for agriculture, geodesy, mapping, monitoring the Earth’s surface and the atmosphere.

“The engines are being created as part of a project to create a small upper stage or the so-called space tug. So far, the developers are planning to create experimental bench samples of the main systems – in 2023, a prototype of a small upper stage – in 2024, a commercial flight model in 2025″– explained in the press service of the NTI Platform.

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