Chinese Company LandSpace Launches Satellites with Methane-fueled Rockets, Surpassing SpaceX
In a significant breakthrough, the Chinese space company LandSpace has successfully launched three satellites into orbit, utilizing rockets powered by methane and liquid oxygen. This accomplishment puts LandSpace ahead of Elon Musk’s SpaceX in terms of this crucial technology.
The satellites, named Honghu, Honghu 2, and TY-33, were placed into a sun-synchronous orbit, 460 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. This achievement showcases the capabilities of LandSpace’s rockets, which have the potential to transport up to 1.5 tonnes into a 500-kilometer orbit. Furthermore, the company plans to enhance its payload capacity to an impressive 4 tonnes in the future.
Looking ahead, LandSpace has ambitious goals to double its number of launches annually and aims to achieve 12 launches by the year 2026. This drive aligns with China’s broader objective to become a leading global power in space by 2045, as the country invests in innovative space technologies to drive overall development.
LandSpace is just one of several private tech startups in China that are actively striving to catch up with SpaceX. By successfully implementing methane as a rocket fuel, LandSpace has capitalized on its numerous advantages over carbon-based fuels. Not only does methane burn more cleanly, making it ideal for reusable rockets, but it is also more stable and denser than liquid hydrogen, allowing for easier storage.
The utilization of liquid oxygen methane fuel had previously proven challenging for US-made rockets, with unsuccessful attempts raising doubts about its viability. However, LandSpace’s triumph has showcased the feasibility and effectiveness of this propulsion system.
This groundbreaking achievement by LandSpace in utilizing methane-fueled rockets not only demonstrates China’s growing influence in the global space race but also paves the way for further developments in the industry. With the company’s ambitious expansion plans and China’s commitment to technological advancement, it is clear that the country is making significant strides in its quest to become a dominant force in space exploration.