This article originally appeared in the April 8, 2019 issue of SpaceNews magazine.
Chinese startup Linkspace succeeded with a vertical takeoff and landing test late last month on the same day fellow private launch firm OneSpace failed to reach orbit with its OS-m rocket. Also that week, two other Chinese companies declared success with engine tests as they push to develop new launch vehicles.
Linkspace Aerospace Technology Group, a firm which has focused on developing a reusable launch vehicle capable of vertical takeoff and vertical landing since its founding in 2014, carried out on March 27 a low-altitude, untethered launch and landing test of a 8.1-meter-tall, 1.5-metric ton tech demonstrator rocket.
The RLV-T5 rocket reached around 20 meters in altitude before hovering and performing a powered descent onto a circular landing pad emblazoned with the words “Welcome to Earth.”
Linkspace aims for a full test flight of the NewLine-1 orbital launcher capable of carrying 200 kilograms to a 500-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) in 2021, having previously targeted 2020.
OneSpace, meanwhile, released a preliminary report on its failed first orbital launch, which also took place March 27.
According to the company, a velocity gyroscope on the second stage of the four-stage ...