China’s i-Space Fires Reusable Engine for 500 Seconds

The Xinhua news agency reports that i-Space (aka, Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology Co., Ltd.) test fired its reusable JD-1 oxygen-methane rocket engines for 500 seconds on Wednesday.

As the key to the reuse of carrier rockets, the engine was designed to be used up to 30 times. It can save more than 70 percent in manufacturing cost for the rockets, according to the developer.

The engine can meet multi-mission requirements such as deceleration, landing, as well as long time in orbit and deep space exploration. It has a strong adaptability to missions, the developer said.

The engine will be used in the Hyperbola-2 launch vehicle, which is designed to place 1.9 tons into low Earth Orbit. The first test launch is planned for 2021.

2018 Was Busy Year for Suborbital Flight Tests

SpaceShipTwo fires its hybrid engine. (Credit: Kenneth Brown)

Part 2 of 2

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

There were 15 flight tests of eight suborbital boosters in 2018, including six flights of two vehicles — Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and Blue Origin’s New Shepard — that are designed to carry passengers on space tourism rides.

The race to provide launch services to the booming small satellite industry also resulted in nine flight tests of six more conventional boosters to test technologies for orbital systems. Two of the boosters tested are designed to serve the suborbital market as well.

A pair of Chinese startups took advantage of a loosening of government restrictions on launch providers to fly their rockets two times apiece. There was also suborbital flight tests of American, Japanese and South Korean rockets.


Suborbital Flights Stopped Being So Humdrum in 2018

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo’s first flight above 50 miles on Dec. 13, 2018. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

Part 1 of 2

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Throughout the Space Age, suborbital flight has been the least exciting segment of the launch market. Operating in the shadow of their much larger orbital cousins, sounding rockets carrying scientific instruments, microgravity experiments and technology demonstrations have flown to the fringes of space with little fanfare or media attention.

The suborbital sector has become much more dynamic in recent years now that billionaires have started spending money in it. Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic both made significant progress last year in testing New Shepard and SpaceShipTwo, respectively. Their achievements have raised the real possibility of suborbital space tourism flights in 2019. (I know. Promises, promises…. But, this year they might finally really do it. I think.)