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Next-generation methane rocket to be more powerful
The announcement of the ZQ-3 comes on the heels of a successful launch of LandSpace's ZQ 2 rocket type, the ZQ 2-Y3, which achieved the world's first satellite deployment by a methane-propelled rocket. The ZQ 2-Y3 took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, deploying three experimental satellites into a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 460 kilometers.
Next-generation methane rocket to be more powerful
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Dec 12, 2023

Beijing-based private space company LandSpace has unveiled the ZQ-3 carrier rocket, a new addition to its lineup that promises significant advancements in rocket technology. The announcement, made by LandSpace's founder and CEO, Zhang Changwu, at a recent news conference at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, details the rocket's design and capabilities, indicating a fresh approach in rocket engineering.

The ZQ-3 rocket, primarily constructed from stainless steel, stands 76.6 meters tall and 4.5 meters wide. When fully fueled, it reaches a staggering weight of nearly 660 metric tons. This design choice for the rocket's propellant tanks, leveraging stainless steel, emphasizes strength, resistance to scorching and corrosion, and cost-effectiveness. Zhang highlighted these features, underscoring the material's suitability for the demanding conditions of space launches.

One of the most notable features of the ZQ-3 is its propulsion system. Powered by LandSpace's own methane engines, the rocket represents a significant shift towards more sustainable and reusable launch technologies. The first stage of the ZQ-3 will be equipped with nine TQ-12B engines, providing the primary thrust for liftoff, while the second stage will utilize a TQ-15B engine. This propulsion strategy not only underscores the creative use of technology by LandSpace but also aligns with the global trend towards environmentally conscious space exploration.

The ZQ-3's liftoff thrust is an impressive 900 tons, capable of transporting spacecraft with a combined weight of 21.3 tons to low-Earth orbit. This capability positions the ZQ-3 as a formidable player in the heavy-lift launch vehicle market. Moreover, the use of methane engines allows for the first stage of the rocket to be reusable, a feature that is increasingly becoming a standard in the industry for reducing costs and improving launch frequency.

Zhang also revealed plans for an imminent recovery test of the rocket's first stage, with the major components for the first prototype expected to be made next year. If the schedule holds, the first prototype of the ZQ-3 is anticipated to be assembled in 2025. This timeline reflects the current pace of innovation and development in the private space sector, particularly in China.

The announcement of the ZQ-3 comes on the heels of a successful launch of LandSpace's ZQ 2 rocket type, the ZQ 2-Y3, which achieved the world's first satellite deployment by a methane-propelled rocket. The ZQ 2-Y3 took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, deploying three experimental satellites into a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 460 kilometers. The ZQ 2, as the world's first methane-fueled rocket to reach Earth orbit, holds the distinction of being both the largest and most powerful private rocket in China. It represents an important step in LandSpace's development of methane rocket technology, setting the stage for the upcoming ZQ-3.

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LandSpace's methane-propelled rocket marks another milestone
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Dec 11, 2023
Beijing-based private aerospace company LandSpace has achieved a new milestone with the successful second flight of its methane-propelled carrier rocket, the ZQ 2-Y3. This launch, which took place on Saturday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, marks a significant advancement in China's private space sector and the global shift toward more sustainable space technologies. The ZQ 2-Y3 rocket, the third in the ZQ 2 series, was launched at 7:39 am, successfully deploying three experimental satel ... read more

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