India’s next-gen rocket engine to be ready by 2026

Indian space enthusiasts received exciting news this week regarding the development of the country’s next-generation launch vehicle engine, the SCE-200. During a talk titled “Launch Vehicles and Propulsion System,” Dr. V. Narayanan, Director of the LPSC (Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre), revealed a potential timeframe for the engine’s readiness.

Dr. Narayanan indicated that the SCE-200 could be operational “may be 2 years from now,” placing its estimated deployment date around June 2026. This engine is specifically designed for India’s LVM 3 (Launch Vehicle Mark 3) – a heavy-lift launch vehicle currently under development. These engines offer a compelling middle ground between conventional liquid-fueled engines and extremely cold cryogenic engines.

The SCE-200 achieves high thrust by burning a combination of liquid oxygen (LOX) as an oxidizer and refined kerosene as fuel. Kerosene is much easier to store and handle compared to cryogenic fuels like liquid hydrogen, which require extremely low temperatures. This translates to simpler logistics and reduced infrastructure costs for pre-launch operations. Additionally, semi-cryogenic engines offer a performance advantage over traditional liquid-fueled engines, making them ideal for powering heavy-lift launch vehicles like the LVM 3.

The SCE-200 promises a significant boost to the LVM 3’s capabilities. It is expected to increase the vehicle’s payload capacity to Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (GTO) by a substantial 25%. This translates to an enhanced ability to carry heavier satellites into orbit, opening doors for more ambitious Indian space missions.

While an official confirmation for the June 2026 timeframe is awaited, Dr. Narayanan’s statement signifies significant progress in the SCE-200’s development. This news is sure to energize the Indian space program as the country strives towards becoming a leading player in the global spacefaring community.


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