Launch of the world’s first orbital rocket with an oxygen-methane engine did not go according to plan

(ORDO NEWS) — The Zhuque-2 rocket, built by Beijing-based startup Landspace, launched on Wednesday (December 14) as part of the first-ever orbital flight of an oxygen-methane-powered launch vehicle.

Despite high hopes placed on it, Zhuque-2 failed to reach orbit and lost its payload of 14 satellites.

China‘s space agency has yet to make an official statement on the matter. However, after the launch of the rocket, footage appeared that, apparently, suggests problems with the second stage of the rocket – it was she who did not allow Zhuque-2 to reach orbital speed.

Landspace tried to get ahead of the American SpaceX and Relativity Space in the “space methane race”, which are also working on similar projects.

Methane as a rocket fuel is more efficient than purified kerosene, easier to manufacture and more environmentally friendly.

Methane has a higher specific thrust impulse, which means that a methane-powered rocket is capable of delivering the same or even a greater load into orbit with less fuel consumption.

Landspace is already working on a second Zhuque-2 rocket, but it is not yet known when a new launch attempt will be made.

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