China’s first methane-fueled rocket failed to reach orbit

China's first methane-fueled rocket failed to reach orbit
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Description of the Juque-2 missile.

Description of the Juque-2 missile.
Illustration: Landspace

The Zhuque-2 rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan satellite launch center in the Gobi desert on Wednesday, leaving an unusual purple trail, the product of its unique methane fuel. The rocket was able to take off, but failed to reach orbit and deliver the 14 satellites on board.

Landspace, a private Chinese aerospace company, hoped to lead the way in the use of methane. new generation rocket fuel— is considered cleaner and safer than currently used liquid hydrogen, kerosene and other fuels. Liquid methane is also a good choice in terms of rocket reusability, a desirable capability for space companies.

Beijing-based Landspace launched the doomed Zhuque-2 at 3:30 a.m. on Dec. 14 in what was supposed to be the rocket’s first orbital mission. After takeoff, the rocket’s second stage engine failed, resulting in a mission failure, Landspace announced on Wednesday. Outside observers had already assumed the mission was a failure before the company announced.

Telemetry data shows that the rocket had to reach a speed of about 17,500 miles per hour (7.8 kilometers per second) to maintain a stable orbit. According to the Daily Astronaut. The rocket carried a commercial payload of 14 satellites, all of which were lost (I’m not sure why the company thought it was a good idea to launch so many satellites on an unproven rocket, but whatever).

Despite its failure, an orbital test flight was carried out still hailed as a major milestone For China and its private space industry as a whole. There was a Chinese startup tried In 2018, it will launch a three-stage Zhuque-1 rocket that uses solid fuel. Zhuque-1 also failed to reach orbit, but the company is now preparing to switch to liquid methane as fuel.

If Landspace succeeds in launching a rocket into orbit, the company would beat Elon Musk’s SpaceX to achieve that proud goal. SpaceX also hopes to use liquid methane fuel to power it new generation Starship rockets, yet to fly. The company’s Falcon 9 and Super Heavy rockets use kerosene for fuel.

Before the first orbital test flight, Landspace was already preparing for the second attempt of Zhuque-2, SpaceNews informed. According to SpaceNews, the second and third models of the rocket are already in development, but Landspace aims to eventually make the rocket reusable.

China is making significant progress with its spaceflight industry, both private and public. in October, China launched the latest module is completing an ambitious project to rival the International Space Station for its own space station in low Earth orbit. There is also in China Big plans for the monthBuilding future launches that could compete with NASA’s Artemis program.

Launching a methane-powered rocket into Earth orbit for the first time will undoubtedly give China a huge advantage over other space programs. Of course, it all depends on how well the second release attempt goes.

More: China sent 3 astronauts to the New Space Station

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