Private Chinese launch provider, LandSpace has completed a hot fire test of an 80-ton liquid methane-liquid oxygen (methalox) rocket engine. The Tianque-12 (TQ-12) rocket engine will be used to power the company’s medium-lift Zhuque-2 launch vehicle which is expected to be launched for the first time in 2020.
According to a LandSpace press release published on May 18, engineers completed a total of four TQ-12 hot-fire tests over the course of a week. The longest of the four tests was approximately 20 seconds with the engine remaining within nominal parameters.
LandSpace joins an exclusive list of launch provider to have mastered a methalox engine. Currently, there are no methalox engines powering operational launch vehicles. However, the Blue Origin BE-4 engine, which is set to power the company’s New Glenn rocket and the SpaceX Raptor engine that will power the Starship are both methalox engines.
Although the TQ-12 engine is yet to be flown on its maiden mission, many in the industry have seen the engine’s development and its progress as a significant step for China. It marks a shift from reproducing what the West has already mastered to embarking on groundbreaking technological developments.