Private Chinese launch provider LandSpace Technology is preparing to launch the country’s first private orbital rocket launch. The provider’s Zhuque-1 launch vehicle has been assembled and tested and is in the final stages of preparation before liftoff in the final quarter of 2018.
Although commercial operators have become commonplace in Europe and the United States, to date all orbital missions have been conducted by governmental agencies in China. However, with the rise and success of SpaceX, several private Chinese launch providers have started work on their own vehicles. The front-runners at the moment are OneSpace which has already launched a suborbital vehicle, LandSpace, LinkSpace and ExPace.
LandSpace was founded in 2015 by Tsinghua University. In 2017, the company became the first Chinese launch provider to sign a contract with a foreign customer, Danish firm GOMSpace. The provider’s Zhuque-1 vehicle is a 19-meter-tall, three-stage solid-fuel rocket capable of deploying up to 300 kilograms into low Earth orbit. The company are also developing the Zhuque-2 which will incorporate both liquid-fuel and solid-fuel rockets. This upgraded vehicle will be capable of launching payloads of up to 4,000 kilograms into a low Earth orbit.
The Zhuque-1’s maiden flight towards the end of the year will carry a communications satellite for China Central Television, the country’s state broadcaster.