Chinese Launch Startup Landspace Successfully Sends Satellites into Orbit with Zhuque-2 Rocket
Chinese launch startup Landspace achieved a major milestone as it successfully launched satellites into orbit for the first time using its third Zhuque-2 methane-liquid oxygen rocket. The rocket, measuring 49.5 meters in length with a diameter of 3.35 meters and a take-off mass of 220 tons, carried three satellites on board. These included Honghu, Honghu-2, and Tianyi-33, with the latter developed by Spacety.
Powered by four Tianque 80-ton-thrust methane-liquid oxygen engines, the Zhuque-2 rocket is capable of carrying up to 1,500 kilograms to a 500-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). An upgraded version is planned, which will have a higher payload capacity of 4,000 kilograms.
Landspace aims to ramp up its launch activities in the coming years. The company plans to launch three Zhuque-2 rockets in 2024, followed by six rockets in 2025 and 12 rockets in 2026, as confirmed by the firm’s vice president. Landspace is also working on the development of the Zhuque-3 rocket, a two-stage stainless steel rocket with a diameter of 4.5 meters and a total length of 76.6 meters. The Zhuque-3 will have a liftoff mass of about 660 tons and will be powered by nine Tianque-12B engines. The company targets the first flight of the Zhuque-3 in 2025 and aims to recycle each rocket up to 20 times.
In addition to its existing projects, Landspace CEO Zhang Changwu announced that the company is working on a 200-ton full-flow staged-combustion-cycle engine, expected to be completed by 2028. Furthermore, Landspace is developing a two-stage reusable launch vehicle with a diameter of 10 meters.
Landspace is among the pioneering commercial launch companies in China. Established in 2015 after the Chinese government allowed private capital to enter the space sector, the company has made significant progress in recent years. The year 2023 has been particularly fruitful for commercial launch companies in China, with several successfully reaching orbit. Orienspace, a new entrant, is also preparing for its inaugural launch with the Gravity-1 solid rocket, scheduled for mid-December.
The achievements of Landspace and other Chinese commercial launch companies mark a significant step forward for China’s space sector and highlight the country’s ambitions in the global space industry.