Journal of Astronautics ›› 2015, Vol. 36 ›› Issue (3): 243-252.doi: 10.3873/j.issn.1000-1328.2015.03.001

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Review and Future Trend of Space Propulsion Technique Using Hydrocarbon Propellants

LI Wen long, LI Ping, ZOU Yu   

  1. Xi’an Aerospace Propulsion Institute, Xi’an 710100, China
  • Received:2014-02-07 Revised:2014-03-20 Online:2015-03-15 Published:2015-03-25


To clarify the direction for subsequent development and future application of space propulsion technique using hydrocarbon propellants in China, physical and chemical properties, as well as application features of typical hydrocarbon propellants including kerosene, methane, and propane are analyzed comparatively. The recent state-of-art and advancement of space engines using hydrocarbon propellant are briefly presented in the area of expendable launch vehicles, reusable launch vehicles, high-performance upper stage propulsion, non-toxic in-space propulsion and air-breathing propulsion system. Space engines using hydrocarbon propellants in LOX/Kerosene rocket engine and LOX/Methane rocket engine as the representative will lead the future development trend of high-performance and low-cost space propulsion systems. According to Chinese research progress and state-of-art, the new power system using LOX/Hydrocarbon rocket engines as the core has a good prospect in the adaptability of future China’s space activities including earth-to-orbit, manned lunar and deep-space exploration, etc.

Key words: Liquid rocket engine, Space propulsion, Liquid oxygen/kerosene, Hydrocarbons, Propellant

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