Two Chinese launch startups have successfully tested and demonstrated rockets that set the groundwork for future reusable launch vehicle technology, SpaceNews reports.
Orbit and Beyond
Space Transportation, a Chinese startup that was founded last year, launched an 8,100 pound hypersonic aircraft it developed with Xiamen University during an April 22 test flight. The craft reached an altitude of 16 miles and was later recovered after landing in a predetermined spot.
Another startup, LinkSpace, launched its RLV-T5 experimental rocket on April 19. The 3,300 pound rocket reached a hovering height of just 130 feet before landing, but future test flights are already scheduled. A more ambitious rocket, the NewLine-1, will attempt to push a payload of 440 pounds into sun-synchronous orbit in 2021, according to SpaceNews.
These launchers may be smaller than what we’ve seen with SpaceX, but that comes with some key advantages.
“But if you can take that small rocket and make it reusable, and you can launch it once a week, four times a month, 50 times a year, then with more volume, your profit increases,” Macro Caceres, analyst at U.S. aerospace consultancy Teal Group, told Reuters.
READ MORE: Chinese firms Space Transportation and Linkspace test reusable launcher technologies [SpaceNews]
More on reusable rockets: Europe’s New Reusable Rocket Design Borrows Heavily from SpaceX