The Chinese Space Corporation has reported the successful launch of Tianlong-2. It is the world's first rocket with liquid fuel derived from coal rather than oil.
Here's What We Know
The rocket was developed by the private company Space Pioneer. The launch took place in mid-spring this year. Tianlong-2 is powered by YF-102 engines, which run on a kerosene-oxygen pair. The propulsion system was developed by the 6th Academy of Aerospace Science and Technology.
Space Pioneer conducted more than three hundred firing tests of the new engine. The total duration of the tests was more than 1,000 minutes. The new propulsion system will be used in other companies' rockets.
Liquefaction of coal is not the newest technology. Chinese experts have turned to it because local oil is not available in large quantities and is not of high quality. Furthermore, in the event of a conflict with Taiwan, China's oil supply is almost guaranteed to be blocked.
Right now, the Chinese industry is capable of producing no more than 5,000 tonnes of paraffin annually from coal. In two years' time, volumes would increase six-fold, but even 30,000 tonnes/year would not be enough to cover the oil shortfall. Nevertheless, the launch of Tianlong-2 has proved that the idea of using fuel from coal is not utopian.