China’s First Ever Full Scale Test Of Reusable Rockets Boosts iSpace Hyperbola-3’s Objectives
November 3, 2023 / By Zunair Tahir / World News
‘Breakthrough’ for China’s commercial space sector, according to the pioneering business
iSpace claims that the successful test of its smaller Hyperbola-2 rocket indicates that it is on schedule to launch its larger rocket in 2025.
With the successful full-scale test of the first stage of its Hyperbola-2 rocket, Beijing-based startup iSpace has taken a significant step toward developing its own reusable launch vehicle. This is a first for the Chinese space industry.
In little under a minute, the “hop test” conducted on Thursday at the Jiuquan satellite launch center in the Gobi Desert in northern China confirmed that the company is on schedule to launch its larger Hyperbola-3 reusable rocket in 2025, according to iSpace.
iSpace claimed that the test “provided strong technical support for the development of the medium/large-scale reusable launch vehicle Hyperbola-3 we are currently working on” in a statement posted on its official WeChat account.
“The achievement was a significant milestone for China’s commercial space industry… It also issued a challenge to China’s space sector to bring its reusable rocket technology to par with the most sophisticated in the world.”
According to the statement, the first stage of the Hyperbola-2 reached 178.4 meters (585 feet) before performing a well-controlled descent and touchdown. The vertical take-off/vertical landing (VTVL) test achieved a landing accuracy of 1.7 meters (5ft 7in).
According to iSpace, the flight validated the company’s overarching plan for creating a first stage that is recoverable as well as associated technologies, such as the propulsion system, landing navigation and guidance, buffering, and supporting infrastructure.
With an eye toward a maiden flight in two years, the firm said earlier this year that it was abandoning its plans for the Hyperbola-2 in favor of the larger and more potent Hyperbola-3, which is 69 meters (226 feet) in length.
The reintroduced Hyperbola-2 is a two-stage, smaller rocket that runs on liquid oxygen and methane. Its overall length is 28 meters (92 feet), and it can carry 1.9 tons of cargo into low Earth orbit.
The design of the most potent Hyperbola-3 model, one of three models in the family, is reminiscent of the Falcon Heavy spacecraft built by US corporation SpaceX.
According to iSpace, the Hyperbola-3B, which consists of a center core and two side boosters, can launch 8.5 tonnes into low Earth orbit while in reusable mode.
Among the many Chinese businesses developing reusable rockets is the company that made history in 2019 with Hyperbola-1, China’s first privately produced rocket to reach space.
Rivals Galactic Energy and CAS Space have validated the technologies and algorithms for guidance, control, and navigation in their rockets’ vertical recovery phase through the use of scaled-down test items.
The only US business to date that has created a rocket that can land softly vertically and be reused several times is SpaceX. Among the missions completed by the Falcon 9 were the orbiting of Starlink satellites and the transportation of supplies and crew to the International Space Station.
The workhorse Long March rockets are still competitive, according to China’s space authorities, but new technologies, such as reusable rockets, are being developed to cut costs in the future.
Complex, intelligent rocket engines created by Chinese scientists have aided in the landing of a rover on Mars and the retrieval of samples from the moon; nevertheless, testing of these technologies on reusable spacecraft has thus far only included smaller prototypes.
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