The aircraft that would have been the first private Chinese rocket to deliver a satellite in orbit around the Earth failed Saturday, the Guardian reported, with something wrong with the distribution of the third stage of Landspace Zhuque-1.
It is not clear exactly what went wrong, even if the videos of the accident clarify that its payload – a satellite called "Future" that was to be used in operations for the China Central Television state network – does not really seem to have much chance to reach the orbit.
The Guardian wrote that Landspace did not elaborate the nature of failure:
The three-stage rocket, Zhuque-1, was developed by the Beijing Landspace. The company said in a post microblog after the first and second nominal stages that the spacecraft failed to reach the orbit due to a problem with the third stage.
The company stated that "the separation of the cuff was normal but something abnormal happened after the second phase". The statement on his Weibo social media account has not been processed.
According to SpaceNews, the Zhuque-1 rocket costs about $ 14 million to grow and is about 62 feet (19 meters) tall, weighing just 30 tons in the United States. It was developed as part of a Chinese private space push that has been going on for years, with at least 10 national companies competing to enter the marker. Rival OneSpace tested the engines in the fourth phase for its OS-M rocket at the start of this month, wrote SpaceNews, and is planning to launch a payload in orbit by the end of this year after being became the first Chinese private company to launch a rocket in space in May 2018.
"Reliability is accumulated only over time, so it is necessary to acquire cadence and experience before reliability can really be assessed for Landspace or any other launching company," the aerospace expert told SpaceNews. of the Ohio State John Horack. "You should expect bankruptcies, as it's not an easy business – SpaceX, Orbital, Virgin and others have dealt with all of this … the first failures can sink a company almost before starting."
SpaceNews added that it is unclear whether the failure of the Saturday launch marked a fateful fate for Landspace's grandest ambitions, which included a much larger Zhuque-2 model:
Zhuque-2 (ZQ-2) two-stage, which Landspace intends to produce next year and launch for the first time in 2020, will measure 48.8 meters in height with a diameter of 3.35 meters and will be able to to deliver a 4,000-kilogram payload capacity to a low-earth orbit of 200 km and 2,000 kilograms to 500 km SSO, using 80 and 10-tonne methalox engines. ,,, Landspace had announced plans for additional, larger three-stage Zhuque-2 series rockets using variable thrust engines to allow for the attempt of vertical landings and the re-use of the first stages, capable of transporting up to 32,000 kilograms to 200 kilometers of low earth orbit.
(For comparison, those plans for the advanced Zhuque-2 model would have a payload capacity somewhere between the Falcon 9 of SpaceX and the Falcon Heavy, which is indeed a rather high bar.)
While this was a stop for Landspace, it was not such a dramatic failure as Interstellar Technologies' attempt to be the first Japanese company to launch a missile into space in late June, when its MOMO-2 rocket He barely got down before the launching ramp and fell down and exploded.