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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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