There are some confusing elements about the Tianhuo-11 engine.
Its technology resembles that of the previously developed Tianhuo-3 HCP-fueled engine
: Tianhuo-11 indeed provides 30 tons of thrust, just like Tianhuo-3,
and both are based on an in-house “green” monopropellant technology called HCP (along with two other rocket engines, Tianhuo-1 (1 kN) engine, the Tianhuo-2 (10 kN)
As mentioned in Episode 30
, we had some doubts on the ability of such a new company
(founded in 2019!) developing such novel technology and with such an aggressive timeline (inaugural launch of the Tianlong-1 in 2022). Now, Tianhuo-11 is mentioned here as a closed-cycle kerolox engine, based on an oxygen-rich preburner.
This in itself is a technological feat, oxygen-rich preburners and just more generally closed cycle engines are not a piece of cake, especially for such a young startup.
In the end, we can wonder whether Tianhuo-11 is a separate 30t thrust engine developed by Tianbing, based on a more traditional kerolox technology (although with an innovative closed cycle architecture), or whether it is just a rebranding of the so-called HCP 30t thrust Tianhuo-3 engine, and the HCP monopropellant only concerned starting up the turbopumps all along.
Lastly, it is important to note that Tianhuo-11 cannot be the only reusable kerolox engine in China as claimed in the article, considering that a number of other launch startups such as Galactic Energy or Deep Blue Aerospace have developed kerolox engines for their VTVL rockets as well.