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Today: June 21, 2024
January 24, 2024
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Chinese startup’s rocket: Looks oddly familiar, yet so innovative

TLDR:

– Chinese startup Landscape recently conducted the first flight test of a reusable first stage prototype that lasted for about a minute.
– The rocket reached an altitude of around 1,000 feet and landed within about 7 feet of its designated touchdown spot.
– Landscape’s prototype first stage rocket is reminiscent of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.
– The company plans to develop a 60-foot-tall Zhuque-3 rocket with a payload capacity of 20 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO) when expendable, and carry 16.5 metric tons for recovery missions.

Chinese startup Landscape has successfully completed the first flight test of a reusable first stage prototype, bringing it a step closer to SpaceX’s industry giant status. The rocket, named Zhuque-3 VTVL-1, took off and hovered close to the ground for approximately 60 seconds before landing vertically on the launch pad. The brief hop aimed to test the rocket’s vertical landing capabilities as part of Landscape’s efforts to develop its first reusable rocket.

The 60-foot-tall Zhuque-3 rocket, which will eventually have a payload capacity of 20 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO) when expendable and carry 16.5 metric tons for recovery missions, reached an altitude of around 1,000 feet and landed within about 7 feet of its designated touchdown spot. The launch vehicle utilizes stainless steel propellant tanks and a high-thrust liquid oxygen-methane engine.

Landscape unveiled its plans to develop the reusable rocket in November 2023 and showcased it at the Mingyue Lake Aerospace Information Industry International Ecosystem Event in Chongqing, China. The company is one of China’s earliest private space companies and has enjoyed relative success in catching up with its western counterparts.

China’s private space sector has been growing over the past decade as the Chinese government allowed investments to flow into spaceflight companies, breaking the dominance of state-owned enterprises in the field. Other Chinese startups such as iSpace, Galactic Energy, Space Pioneer, and Deep Blue Aerospace are also working on their own reusable liquid propellant rockets.

While China’s Landscape may not be able to catch up with SpaceX in terms of rocket reusability, the company is moving forward with its launch vehicle. It aims to see its rocket reach orbit for the first time in 2025.

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