China Launches 1st Methane Liquid Rocket

BEIJING (Reuters) — A private Chinese company launched into orbit on July 12 the world’s first methane-liquid oxygen rocket, beating U.S. rivals in sending what could become the next generation of launch vehicles into space.

The Zhuque-2 carrier rocket blasted off at 9 a.m. from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China and completed its flight according to plan, state media reported.

It was the second attempt by Beijing-based LandSpace, one of the earliest firms in China’s commercial launch sector, to launch the Zhuque-2. A first attempt in December failed.

The July 12 launch put China ahead of U.S. rivals, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, in the race to launch carrier vehicles fueled by methane, which is deemed less polluting, safer, cheaper and a suitable propellant in a reusable rocket.