Chinese small launch vehicle startup Linkspace Aerospace Technology Group has performed its most ambitious launch and landing test to date. The RLV-T5 tech demonstrator reached an altitude of 300 meters before returning to Earth and touching down safely.
Linkespace performed the test at its facility in the Lenghu region of Qinghai province in the northwest of the country at 02:30 UTC on August 10. According to Linkspace CEO Hu Zhenyu, the 8.1-meter tall rocket reached an altitude of 300.2 meters during a 50-second flight. It then completed a powered descent and vertical landing with an accuracy of 0.07 meters.
This is the third test of the company’s RLV-T5 vehicle after completing 20 and 40-meter tests in March and April respectively. The vehicle will be used for one final test with the aim of achieving an altitude of 1 kilometer before returning to the launchpad.
Following the completion of the 1-kilometer test, the RLV-T5 vehicle will be retired and testing will begin on the larger RLV-T6 vehicle. This vehicle will be used in much the same capacity as its predecessor performing progressively longer suborbital tests. It is designed to reach the edge of space with a maximum altitude of 100 kilometers.
The data collected during the RLV-T5 and RLV-T6 flights will be invaluable for the first launch of Linkespace’s orbital-class vehicle, NewLine-1. The maiden launch of the NewLine-1 vehicle is currently expected by no earlier than 2021. Once in service, it will be capable of deploying 200 kilograms into a 500-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit (SSO).