HELSINKI – The Chinese private company Linkspace has launched its most ambitious take-off and landing test to date in the midst of a variety of commercial carrier rocket activities. The Linkspace Aerospace Technology Group, a private launch company founded in 2014, conducted its third test to launch and land their RLV-T5 technology demonstrator. Eastern August 9, the final step in the development of a reusable orbital carrier missile. The 8.1-meter high 0.65-meter rocket with a 1.5-ton capacity reached a height of 300.2 meters during its 50-second flight before moving with accuracyfrom 0.07 meters a powerful descent and a vertical landing, so Linkspace CEO Hu Zhenyu explained on Sina Weibo, a Chinese Twitter-like service. The launch follows two tests with a range of 20 or 40 meters in March and April. The most recent test was conducted at a new facility in the Lenghu area of Qinghai Province in the northwest of the country. The Chinese magazine Future Aerospace states that the RLV-T5 is powered by five variable-thruster rocket engines that use ethanol and liquid oxygen, a fuel combination used by German V2 rockets. The company will test to the mileage before moving on to a larger RLV-T6 technology demonstration rocket. For the year 2021, a full test flight of the NewLine-1 orbital launcher is planned to move 200 kilograms into a 500-m solar synchronous orbit. The reusable technology demonstrator RLV-T6 is designed for heights of around 100 kilometers. According to Chinese press reports, the RLV-T6 is powered by Lingyun’s 10-ton thrust Methalox engines developed by Jiuzhou Yunjian. Jiuzhou Yunjian is a Beijing-based aerospace startup founded in 2017.Last month, tests of the Lingyun engine were conducted. In June, the company tested the gas generator for a larger “Longyun” Methalox engine with 80 tons of thrust. Linkspace is one of four companies that is considered the first wave of Chinese private start-up companies. While Landspace, OneSpace, and iSpace were the first to use tracking and launching of solid rocket launchers, Linkspace has focused exclusively on developing a reusable liquid rocket. Chinese NewSpace companies have received government support since a political turnaround in 2014, including technology transfer.However, they will also be exposed to competition from traditional aerospace and defense companies.
Enter the Smart Dragon
Chinarocket Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the prime contractor for China’s space programs, will test the commercial Jielong-1 (‘Smart Dragon-1’) solid-state microlighters in August after transportto the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in late July. Jielong-1 is designed to be “fast, agile and flexible” and can put 150 kilograms into a 700-kilometer-long SSO. The test launch will payloads with the participation of NewSpace satellite manufacturer Beijing Qiansheng Exploration Technology Co., Ltd.and Beijing Weina Star Technology Co., Ltd., also known as Minospace, both of which were founded in 2017.
Sea Launch Space Port, solid competition Further competition comes from the carrier rocket Long March 11. Following the success of the first launch of the Solid Launcher at Sea on June 5, CASC announced in late July that it will work with the city of Yantai in the eastern coastal province of Shandong to develop a port that allows frequent takeoffs at sea The port will comprise four carrier missile R & D centers, satellite payloads, sea launch platforms, and satellite data and applications. The China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp.(CASIC), a large state-owned defense company that is considered a sister company of CASC, continues its own extensive space travel plans. It is expected that the latest solid rocket Kuaizhou-1A (200 kg to 700 km SSO) will be fired in August from Jiuquan. Kuaizhou-1A is based on the CASIC missile technology and is the basis for the larger Kuaizhou-11 (1000 kg to 700 km SSO), which could launch after delays before the end of 2019. The subsidiary Expace has already announced that it will provide LEO with the Kuaizhou-11 at a price of $ 5,000 per kilogram.
iSpace plans, crowded field According to Reuters, Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology Ltd., also known as iSpace, intends to continue the historic launch on July 25 with up to eight commercial launchers next year. Yao Bowen, vice president of marketing and communications, said the price of launching a rocket was 4.5 million euros ($ 5 million) and related to the hyperbola-1 solid-fuel rocket. Landspace, iSpace and OneSpace are developing new, larger carrier rockets.Landspace’s goal is to test the Zhuque-2 two-stage rocket with liquid methane and liquid oxygen in 2020. Newly-founded companies are also making progress. Beijing Xinghe Dongli Space Technology Co. Ltd., also known as Galactic Energy, is planning its first orbital launch in March 2020.Beijing Xingtu Exploration Technology Co., Ltd., also known as Space Trek, is planning a suborbital launch in the second half of 2019. With other players also in the testing stage of engines, the field could quickly become overcrowded. These start-ups will compete for commercial launch contracts, with only CASC being allowed to launch government payloads. While there are plans for numerous low-profile commercial orbit constellations of the Chinese government and the NewSpace satellite manufacturers, there is no idea how many of them can or will be realized. In the long term, China needs to expand into other markets to survive, “said Leena Pivovarova, an analyst with consultancy Northern Sky Research, recently told SpaceNews.