The Landscape could soon change the Space Sector with Liquid methane rocket launches

The Landscape is a renowned private firm in China. For a while now, it has been working on finding out the possibility of having a launching vehicle powered by methane fuel. If things go as planned, the debut orbital launch of this manner might see the light of the day by the end of this year. So far, so good since, at the beginning of February, it achieved a commendable milestone. The firm assembled the four Tianque-12 liquid methane-liquid oxygen engines. These engines will be responsible for powering the first stage of the Zhuque-2 rocket. Before that, there were several tests in late January, including the one for the payload fairing separation. The thrust engines, weighing 80 metric tonnes, also underwent several f 400-second hot-fire tests.

Zhuque-2 is a two-stage rocket with a length of 49.5 meters. Upon its successful launch, it will be the first methane-fueled launching vehicle. 2021 will also see debut launches for Vulcan and New Glenn by ULA and Blue Origin, respectively. The pair will be powered by BE-4 staged-combustion methalox engines manufactured by Blue Origin. The gas generator engines that will power the Zhuque-2 are neither complex nor too efficient.

Nevertheless, according to Landscape, the launcher can handle a payload delivery with a weight capacity of up to 4,000 kg to the low earth orbit of up to 200 km. Another possible scenario is a lift-off of payload weighing 2,000 kg to the SSO up to 500 km. So far, the schedule of the test for the launch is indefinite. However, Landscape expects it to happen this year.

For the debut launch, reusing will be out of the question. However, that is bound to change for the rest of the launch. After all, Landscape plans to come up with a different Tianque-12 thrust version using technologies such as pintle injectors. Such a design would facilitate the recovery and recycling of the first stages by allowing vertical takeoffs and landings.

The Zhuque-2 rocket will also make history in China, the first liquid-propellant rocket that a Chinese commercial launch provider has ever developed. That’s because they have been trying out solid rockets so far with a record of up to five orbital launches. Participants of these five attempts included Landscape, iSpace that has done 2, Galactic Energy, and OneSpace. Unfortunately, the majority of them, three to be precise, were unsuccessful.

Besides, iSpace, which is a Landscape competitor, is also in the process of developing a Hyperbola-2 methalox launcher that will be reusable. On the other hand, Aerospace Propulsion and Jiuzhou Yunjian, engine manufacturers, are also developing commercial liquid methane engines.

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