The use of iodine as a fuel will make rockets more economical, and their engines are less cumbersome.
The idea to use iodine as a rocket fuel was proposed at the end of the last century. However, RSC Energia specialists started developing the new type of engine only in 2012. Trial tests showed the possibility of using iodine as a fuel – the experimental engine was started on xenon, and iodine maintained a charge.
The main advantage of iodine is its economy. Traditionally used as a working fluid xenon is much more expensive. In addition, xenon has a very complex supply and storage system that makes the engine bulky. Iodine is easily stored in a solid state and does not require a complex pressure reduction system for transition to a gaseous state. Due to this, the cost of ground testing of a rocket engine is ten times lower.
At present, iodine storage and supply systems for the rocket engine have already been patented. According to one of the project managers, Pavel Scherbina, the first ground tests will be conducted in mid-June. The new type of engine will be used as a march or for orbit correction.