The world’s first launch of methane-fueled rocket ends in failure

The launch of the world’s first methane rocket Zhuque-2 ended in failure. This was announced by the Chinese company Landspace, which built the carrier.

Launch of the Zhuque-2 rocket. Source: @CNSAWatcher

Zhuque-2 was launched on December 14 from the Chinese Jiuquan Cosmodrome. Judging by the available information, the first stage of the carrier worked in normal mode. The accident occurred already at the work site of the second stage. Due to the premature shutdown of the engines, it failed to develop the first space speed, which led to the loss of the payload in the form of 14 satellites from different customers.

Zhuque-2 methane rocket

Landspace is one of the first privately owned Chinese aerospace companies founded in 2015. In 2018, it made its first attempt at an orbital launch. However, the solid-fuel rocket Zhuque-1 never reached orbit due to a malfunction of the third stage.

After that, Landspace decided to focus its efforts on the development of the Zhuque-2 liquid rocket. It has a two-stage design and is capable of carrying up to 4 tons of cargo into a 200-kilometer low-Earth orbit and up to 2 tons of cargo into a 500-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit.

The Zhuque-2 rocket. Source: @CNSAWatcher

The key feature of the carrier is the use of engines using methane as fuel and oxygen as an oxidizer. In recent years, a large number of players in the aerospace market have engaged in the creation of equipment using methane engines. Among them are SpaceX (Starship spacecraft/Super Heavy accelerator), ULA (Vulcan rocket), Blue Origin (New Glenn rocket) and a number of companies. If successful, Landspace could get ahead of them all and enter its name in the space directories.

Currently, Landspace specialists are investigating the causes of the accident. It is not yet known when the company will make a new attempt to launch Zhuque-2.

According to https://spacenews.com

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