Landscape, a Chinese launch firm, has successfully assembled a rocket engine that runs on liquid methane and oxygen, for its Zhuque-2 vehicle for launches.
The methalox engine weighing 80 tons has been assembled in Huzhou, after a powerpack test launch in March.
An integrated and modular design are key features of the engine. This reduces costs and the quantity of components used. Another test is likely by July.
The engine can deliver 4000 KG payloads to an Earth orbit at 200 km and 2000 KG payloads to a 500 KM Sun-synchronous orbital zone.
This is the first methalox propellant fuelled rocket from China and will have ranks third on thrust levels globally.
Mike Gruntman, who is a prominent professor at South Carolina University said that it was a huge achievement for China as they are now marching forward on their own instead of reproducing earlier demonstrations. While a similar rocket had been developed in USSR during the 80s, Blue Origin is about to complete theirs.
D-Orbit of Italy and Open Cosmos of the UK have signed deals with landscape regarding Zhuque-2. Mr. Remco Timmermans of Open Cosmos said that this was a reciprocity-based agreement, targeted at China’s smallsat market.
The company Open Cosmos now has complete access to all Landspace launches. It can now advise Chinese operators to integrate their payloads with Open Cosmos-based platforms and launch via Landspace vehicles. The deals totaled $15M as per Landspace, although Open Cosmos said that no monetary figures were quoted in the agreement.
Landspace has also previously signed up with Denmark’s Gomspace for launches via LS-1, which has now been replaced by Zhuque-1.Landspace is looking to sell commercial services to international and Chinese customers. So far, it has raised $75M in funding.
Government policies and renewed support from SASTIND have accelerated their progress. China is also establishing strategies for use of traditionally restricted and exclusive technologies of State-owned firms by approved private firms.
Landspace was first among Chinese firms to launch a satellite via solid propellant, 3-stage Zhuque-1. It ended in a failure. OneSpace failed in its first attempt too. The next launch will be by iSpace, set in June.