A Chinese startup’s attempt to use a rocket fueled with liquid methane and oxygen to place a satellite in orbit failed.
A Chinese startup’s attempt to use a rocket fueled with liquid methane and oxygen to place a satellite in orbit failed in its mission on Wednesday, according to a statement on the company’s Weibo account.
The brief statement on LandSpace Technology Corp.’s launch said the rocket’s main engines were performing normally, but that there was an abnormality in a supplementary second-stage engine. The setback is still being reviewed, according to the statement.
LandSpace is vying to be China’s private-sector answer to Elon Musk’s SpaceX. SpaceX and other rivals have been developing rockets that can use methane-based fuel, thanks to its potential to be cleaner and safer than solid propellants, liquid hydrogen and other fuels currently used. But so far, no company has successfully used methane to send a satellite or astronauts into orbit.
Since its founding in 2015 by Zhang Changwu, LandSpace has raised at least 2.1 billion yuan ($300 million) from the government-backed China SME Development Fund as well as private-sector investors such as Sequoia China and Matrix Partners China, according to statements from the company.
China’s space program has notched a number of accomplishments, including sending three astronauts to a newly completed Chinese space station in late November.