News & Events
Near Space Rocket-Powered Aircraft Beihang-4 Successfully Launched
Release time:June 10, 2020 /

The red-painted near space rocket-powered aircraft, codenamed Beihang-4, was successfully launched and landed at the designated place after 400-second navigation at 11:01 am on May 27, which marks the success of its first flight and the fruit of Beihang's integrated project-based talent cultivation system.

The launch of Beihang-4

It is known that Beihang-4 has a total length of 8.7 m and a weight of about 1,300 kg. It consists of a solid-propellant rocket booster and a solid-liquid powered cruise aircraft. Among them, the thrust of solid-propellant rocket engine is about 150 kN with the working time of 8.2 s. The solid-liquid powered cruise rocket engine uses 98% H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) as oxidizer and HTPB (hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene) as fuel, with a maximum thrust of about 3 kN, a thrust adjustment capacity of 3:1, and a working time of more than 200 s. The flight control adopts GPS and Beidou dual-mode fiber inertial navigation system to realize the controlled cruise flight. 

This flight mainly aims to demonstrate and verify the possibility of the powered near space flight with a level flight altitude of 24 km, a level flight speed of 3 Ma and a flight range of about 200 km.

The flight test successfully verified a long-time variable thrust solid-liquid powered rocket engine technology and technologies of the overall design, navigation and flight control of rocket-propellant aircraft with a wide speed range in large airspace, which can be applied to the near space atmosphere parameter measurement, earth observation and high-speed over-the-air data transmission. In the future, these technologies can provide a possibility for new rocket-propellant aircraft.

The preparation before the launch of Beihang-4

As a large-scale comprehensive project conducted by Beihang students, Beihang-4 has attracted 21 doctoral students, 49 master students and 16 undergraduate students to participate in the design, development and flight test. 

General technical instructor Yuan Junya said: “When I saw the flight curve meeting the requirements, I was finally relieved and felt proud of the students who participated in the research. I still remember all problems and unforeseen circumstances during the research process. The students worked all night and found the root of problems through discussion and analysis.”

Students were guided to do final assembly

Inspection of cable installation in rudder room

“Beihang-4 cannot be launched successfully without the determined efforts from the laboratory team members and the rich experience from graduated seniors. Success does not come easy. As one of the members, I’m clear about the hardship and intricacy of this project. However, we all withstood the pressure and went through the ordeals with professional knowledge, positive attitude and strong willpower,” said Li Xiaogang, a doctoral student who participated in the research of the rocket body structure subsystem.

The final assembly

Postgraduate Zhao Kai who participated in the research of the flight control subsystem said: “The deadly novel coronavirus COVID-19 and the hostile environments such as hot dry weather and sandstorms cannot keep back our excitement and enthusiasm. We are busy but orderly. ”

A group photo of Beihang-4 laboratory team

The development and launch of Beihang-4 is highly valued by Beihang University and is strongly supported by several aerospace institutions and organizations such as Changde National High Techindustrial Development Zone.

Reported by Zhu Hao

Reviewed by Li Jianwei

Edited by Jia Aiping

Translated by Feng Yueyue and Ren Chenjie

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