The Zhuque-2 rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert on Wednesday, leaving behind an unusual purple trail—a product of a unique methane fuel. The rocket managed to take flight, but failed to reach orbit and deliver the 14 satellites that were on board.
China’s private aerospace company Landspace hoped to lead the way in using methane-the next-generation rocket fuel— which is considered cleaner and safer than liquid hydrogen, kerosene, and other propellants currently in use. Liquid methane is also a choose good in terms of rocket reusability, the space companies wanted.
Beijing-based Landspatial launched the doomed Zhuque-2 at 3:30 a.m. ET on December 14, in what was supposed to be the rocket’s first mission. Following liftoff, the second stage of the rocket suffered a gun malfunction, resulting in the failure of the mission, Landspace announced el miércoles Outside observers already thought the mission was a failure before the company announced it.
Telemetry data suggests that the rocket reached a speed of 11,000 miles per hour (5 kilometers per second), while it would need to maintain a stable orbit of about 17,500 miles per hour (7.8 kilometers per second); according to the daily Astronaut. The rocket carried a commercial payload of 14 satellites, all of which were lost (not sure why the company thought it was useful to have so many satellites on an unproven rocket, but whatever).
Despite its failure, it was an orbital test flight yet it is hailed as a major milestone of China, and the private space of the whole industry. He had a Chinese startup effort Zhuque-1 three-stage rocket, which uses solid propellant, in 2018. Zhuque-1 could not even reach orbit, but the company is already in the process of switching to liquid methane as a propellant instead.
If Landspace had been successful in launching a rocket into orbit, Elon Musk’s company would have beaten SpaceX in achieving this goal. SpaceX also hopes to use liquid methane as a fuel for its power future Starship fanswhich still fly. Societies Falcon 9 and Super Heavy Survival use kerosene for fuel.
Even before the first orbital flight test, Landspace was already preparing for the second launch of Zhuque-2, SpaceNews. announced. The second and third prototypes of the rocket are already in development, but Landspace aims to eventually make the rocket reusable, according to SpaceNews.
China is making significant progress with its industrial space, both on the private and public fronts. In October, China launched the final module for its space station in low earth orbit, fulfilling the ambitious goal of emulating the International Space Station. China also has something great plans for the moonplanning future launches that would compete with NASA’s Artemis program.
Launching the first ever methane-fueled rocket into Earth orbit will certainly give China a major advantage in other space programs. Of course, it all depends on how well the second launch attempt goes.
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