GIRD-09 engine

Developed in 1933, Engine 09 successfully propelled the first Soviet rocket burning liquid oxidizer on August 17, 1933.

Bookmark and Share


A rare museum replica of the 09 engine, showing holes for injection of the benzene gel into the combustion chamber.

From the publisher: Pace of our development depends primarily on the level of support from our readers!

The engine of Vehicle 09 was intended to burn an unusual gel-like fuel made of benzene mixed with rosin. Around one kilogram of the semi-solid substance was loaded into a special cavity between the main wall of the combustion chamber and a special central pipe with holes.

The fuel would burn in layers from the central pipe toward the periphery of the chamber, thus protecting the vulnerable main wall of the chamber from melting almost until the very end of the combustion process. The unusual design allowed to avoid the construction of a fuel tank and its fuel-supply mechanism.

In the meantime, the liquid oxygen serving as oxidizer for the fuel would be forced into the combustion chamber by the pressure of its own vaporization.

The system became known as a hybrid engine, rather than a full-fledged liquid propellant engine. It was apparently the world's first attempt to use a design of this type.

According to various sources, the engine was designed to burn between 15 and 20 seconds.


Known specifications of Engine 09:

Thrust 25-33 kilograms (81), 245-320 newtons (2), 52.40 kilograms
Specific thrust 164 kilograms per second
Duration of burn 15 seconds (81); up to 20 seconds*
Combustion chamber pressure 5 atmospheres
Fuel Jellied benzene
Oxidizer Liquid oxygen
First test 1933 March 5 (84) or May*
First launch 1933 Aug. 17

*GDL museum

Read much more about the history of the Russian space program in a richly illustrated, large-format glossy edition:



Bookmark and Share

The article and photography by Anatoly Zak; Last update: August 18, 2018

Page editor: Alain Chabot; Last edit: August 17, 2018

All rights reserved




Mikhail Tikhonravov


A schematic of the 09 engine. (shown upside down). Credit: GDL