China LandSpace's methane-powered rocket sends satellites into orbit
A rocket developed by LandSpace Technology on Saturday launched three satellites into orbit, state media said, a milestone in the Chinese private rocket startup's mission to test whether its vehicle using methane and liquid oxygen is ready for commercial liftoffs.
LandSpace's Zhuque-2 Y-3 blasted off at 7:39 a.m. Dec. 9(11:39 p.m. Dec.8 GMT) from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in China's Inner Mongolia region, state television CCTV said, without providing details on the types and overall weight of the satellites it lifted.
The success could boost investors' confidence in methane as a potential rocket fuel, which is deemed able to help slash costs and support reusable rockets in a cleaner and more efficient way.
Zhuque-2 Y-3 was the third of LandSpace's test rockets for Zhuque-2, and the first that succeeded in lifting satellites.
A second attempt, without real satellites, in July made LandSpace the world's first company to launch methane-liquid oxygen rocket, ahead of U.S. rivals including Elon Musk's SpaceX and Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin.