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Chinese Company Makes History with First Methane Rocket Launch to Orbit

A private space company in China called Landspace has made history by successfully launching its methane-fueled Zhuque-2 rocket into orbit.

This achievement marks the beginning of a new era in rocket fuel that is cleaner, safer, and more suitable for reusable rockets.

The rocket was launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert. It was the second attempt for Zhuque-2 to reach orbit, as its previous mission in December 2022 failed and the destruction of 14 satellites.

However, this time the rocket successfully reached orbit without any payloads onboard.

Zhuque-2 has robust gas generator engines that can provide 243 metric tons of thrust. It is capable of launching payloads up to four tons into a Sun-synchronous orbit or six tons into a low Earth orbit.

Methane is gaining popularity in space as the next-generation rocket fuel due to its cleaner and safer properties than other fuels like liquid hydrogen and kerosene.

It is also the most economical alternative, making it a very popular choice for reusable rockets. SpaceX, Relativity Space, Rocket Lab, Blue Origin, and other companies are also exploring methane as a fuel source for their rockets.

Landspace’s achievement is significant as it beat other companies in successfully launching a methane-fueled rocket to orbit. This success represents an important milestone for China’s private space sector, which has experienced significant growth in the past decade.

The Chinese government has decided to invest in spaceflight companies that can grow a more competitive and diverse space industry in China.