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China launches the world’s first methane-fueled orbital rocket, 14 satellites are lost

The first rocket ever launched into orbit powered by methane has failed to achieve its objective.

The Zhuque-2 rocket, developed by Beijing-based Landspace, took off on Wednesday, December 14, for China’s first liftoff of a commercially developed liquid propellant rocket and the first orbital mission of a methane-fueled launcher. It appears that Zhuque-2 failed to reach orbit and lost the 14 satellites it carried, despite the high hopes for the historic mission.

The purpose of the launch, which took place on Wednesday at 3:30 a.m. EST (08:30 GMT) at China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert, was to place a number of commercial satellites in sun-synchronous orbit. However, according to reports, the second stage of the rocket failed, resulting in the failure of the mission and the loss of all satellites.

The launch has not yet been officially announced by China’s space agency. Zhuque-2, on the other hand, was unable to reach orbital velocity due to an anomaly in the rocket’s second stage, according to footage posted on Twitter following the launch.

Landspace is now dealing with a second Zhuque-2 rocket, as per SpaceNews(opens in new tab), however it isn’t yet known when another send off endeavor will be made.

Despite Zhuque-2’s failure, the mission continues to demonstrate China’s rapid progress in terms of national and commercial capabilities in space. China has completed its T-shaped Tiangong space station and is close to 60 successful launches for 2022.

This year, private space companies in China have also made progress, as more launch service providers have started putting payloads into orbit for the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC).

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