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LandSpace unveils methane engine that will allow it to reach orbit

– News of May 7, 2019 –

LandSpace was not demotivated after the failure of its first orbital attempt last year. On the contrary, the Chinese company has more ambitions. LandSpace is now working on a medium-capacity methane-powered launcher, and it’s moving fast. Photos of the engine that will power the launcher have been released. If planning does not move, LandSpace could become the first company in the world to reach orbit with a methane engine.

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LandSpace wants to enter the Smallsats market with its new launcher

– News of January 11, 2019 –

Since 2015, LandSpace (蓝箭) has been striving to become the first fully private Chinese company to be able to reach Earth’s orbit. A first attempt was made in October 2018. Unfortunately, this was a failure because of a malfunction on the third stage of their Zhuque-1 launcher (ZQ-1 or 朱雀 一号).

LandSpace has secured tens of millions of dollars in funding and already has plans that go beyond the micro-launchers market. The Chinese company opened a new manufacturing site in December 2018 near Shanghai. It wants to make a new launcher called Zhuque-2 (ZQ-2). The engine of this launcher will burn oxygen and liquid methane, such as SpaceX’s Raptor engine or Blue Origin’s BE-4 engine. Zhuque-2 will be a light launcher but it will be able to carry 4 tons of payload in low orbit and 2 tons in sun-synchronous orbit.

LandSpace probably wants to be able to send Smallsats into space at very low costs. Micro-launchers can offer a personalized service but very expensive. Traditional launchers such as the SpaceX Falcon 9 have a much smaller cost per kilo, but it can take years to gather enough passengers for a targeted orbit. The Zhuque-2 would be a compromise between the two. This is perhaps where most of the demand lies, as demonstrated by the repeated success of PSLV launcher made by ISRO, the Indian space agency.

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