China successfully launched the world’s first methane launcher

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The second attempt was successful: on July 12, China launched the Zhuque 2 medium launcher, using a liquid oxygen/methane mixture.

A private launcher

On July 12 at 01:00 UTC, the private Chinese company LandSpace (founded in 2015 within Tsinghua University in beijing) implemented its medium launcher Zhuque 2 (ZQ 2).

The machine (two-stage) weighs 219 tons at take-off.

It is capable of placing 6 tons in low orbit and 4 tons in sun-synchronous orbit.

The launch took place from the base of Jiuquanlocated north of the Gobi Desert.

The launcher reached a high orbit of 431 × 461 kilometers, inclined 97.3° with respect to the equator.

For this second test, no payload was on board.

Failure on maiden flight

Zhuque 2 thus became the first launcher in the world equipped with a liquid oxygen/methane propulsion carrying out an orbital mission.

The launcher was developed from the micro-launcher Zhuque 1 (inaugurated in October 2018), using components provided by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (Casc).

A first attempt to launch Zhuque 2 took place on December 14, but ended in failure, due to premature shutdown of the second stage

John Walker Avatar