Credit By: TS2 Space
Chinese private rocket startup LandSpace Technology achieved a significant milestone on Saturday as its Zhuque-2 Y-3 carrier rocket, powered by methane and liquid oxygen, successfully launched three satellites into orbit. This marks a key test for the company’s mission to demonstrate the viability of methane as a rocket fuel for commercial liftoffs. The successful launch adds confidence in methane as a potential rocket fuel, known for cost efficiency and supporting reusable rockets more cleanly and effectively.
1. Breakthrough for Methane-Powered Rockets:
The Zhuque-2 Y-3 rocket took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre, Inner Mongolia, at 7:39 am on Friday, becoming the third LandSpace test rocket for Zhuque-2 and the first to successfully lift satellites into orbit. The achievement positions LandSpace as a leading player in the exploration of methane-powered rockets, offering an alternative propulsion method in the space industry.
2. Growing Competition in China’s Commercial Space Industry:
Private Chinese rocket startups, including LandSpace, are actively engaging in test and commercial launches to meet the rising demand in China’s expanding commercial space industry. The goal is to establish a satellite constellation as a competitive alternative to projects like Elon Musk’s Starlink. The success of the Zhuque-2 Y-3 launch demonstrates the readiness of Chinese private companies to contribute to the evolving space sector.
3. Commercial Viability of Zhuque-2 Y-3:
The Zhuque-2 Y-3 rocket, with its reliable performance in lifting satellites, showcases its commercial viability. LandSpace plans to increase the payload capacity of Zhuque-2 to 4 tons in upgraded versions, making it a potentially robust option for future commercial launches. The milestone positions LandSpace as a key player in the commercial space launch market.
4. Satellite Payloads and Collaborations:
While details about the specific satellites launched remain undisclosed, LandSpace mentioned that the three satellites reached a 460-km sun-synchronous orbit. Among them were two 50-kilogram test satellites developed by Chinese startup Spacety, incorporating technologies from Hongqing, another contributing company. Hongqing, in which LandSpace holds a stake, aims to support the formation of a low-orbit satellite constellation.
5. Future Plans and Competition in the Space Sector:
LandSpace, an eight-year-old startup, has ambitious plans for the future. The company aims to provide clients with about three launches in 2024, with plans to double that number in 2025. The success of LandSpace adds to the growing competition in China’s private space sector, with other startups like OrienSpace and Deep Blue Aerospace also making significant strides in rocket development and launch capabilities.
LandSpace’s successful launch of the Zhuque-2 Y-3 methane-powered rocket, carrying satellites into orbit, is a testament to the company’s technological prowess and its contribution to the evolution of rocket propulsion methods. The breakthrough enhances confidence in methane as a viable rocket fuel and positions Chinese private startups as formidable players in the competitive commercial space industry.
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