In a significant milestone for China’s space industry, a private Chinese company has successfully launched the world’s first methane-liquid oxygen rocket into orbit, surpassing its American competitors.
On Wednesday morning, the Zhuque-2 carrier rocket, developed by LandSpace, lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center as scheduled, according to reports from state media. This launch came after a previous unsuccessful attempt by LandSpace in December, making this success all the more significant.
What sets this achievement apart is the use of methane as a propellant, which positions China ahead of its American counterparts in the race to develop next-generation launch vehicles. The utilization of methane offers several advantages, including lower pollution, enhanced safety measures, reduced costs, and suitability for reusable rockets. This puts Chinese private space companies like LandSpace ahead of renowned American players like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.
Furthermore, LandSpace’s achievement extends beyond the propulsion system. It also marks a private Chinese company’s second successful launch of a liquid-propellant rocket. In April, Beijing Tianbing Technology accomplished a milestone of its own by launching a kerosene-oxygen rocket, making progress in the development of reusable rockets that can be refueled.
China’s commercial space industry had experienced rapid growth since 2014 when the government permitted private investment in the sector. Among the early entrants into this domain, LandSpace has been at the forefront due to its early establishment and substantial funding.
With the successful launch of the Zhuque-2 rocket, China has demonstrated its competitiveness in the commercial space sector. The country’s advancements in developing next-generation launch vehicles and reusable rocket technology highlight its commitment to becoming a significant player in the global space industry.