China’s future rockets aiming to have wireless technology

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A Long March V rocket which may one day be powered by wireless technology. Photo: Reuters

Wireless charging technology is now very much part of many everyday life: portable devices like smartphones and electric toothbrushes can now recharge their batteries without any direct access to a power source.

Now wireless technology may feature a long way from the family home – in space. According to state news agency Xinhua, China’s aerospace and rocket scientists are now making headway towards a prototype of a wireless rocket.

Liu Fei, a project manager at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, told the state news agency that dozens of devices and modules in any rocket, like control systems and telemetry technology, still need to be connected to power sources by a maze of cables of various specifications.

Liu said his team was now devising ways to offload the cables and wires from rockets, which often take up hundreds of kilograms of precious payload space.

Transceivers will replace cables and be fitted to batteries and other subsystems as the backbone of a highway for transmission of both data and power through electromagnetic induction.

But the obstacles are obvious, such as inconsistent transmission frequencies and power range as well as potential interference.

“We have completed the ground tests and expect to use the wireless technology within two years while applying the technology on other frontiers such as robotics and satellites,” said Liu.

Meanwhile, China is set to resume its hectic pace of launches in the second half of the year, having ascertained the cause of the failure of the heavy-lift Long March-5 Y2 that stalled and nosedived into the Pacific Ocean less than six minutes after lift-off in July 2017.

The culprit was a malfunctioning turbine exhaust that “choked” the engine of the first stage, which in turn made it lose a significant amount of thrust, meticulous analysis with the help of computer simulations and ground tests have found.

If the soon-to-be-launched Long March-5 Y3 rocket can meet all performance parameters, the Long March-5 Y4 rocket will be deployed to catapult the Chang’e-5 lunar probe by the end of the year, which will set foot, for the first time in China’s lunar exploration, on the far side of the Moon.

 

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