The year 2018 was the busiest one for launches in decades. There were a total of 111 completely successful launches out of 114 attempts. It was the highest total since 1990, when 124 launches were conducted.
China set a new record for launches in 2018. The nation launched 39 times with 38 successes in a year that saw a private Chinese company fail in the country’s first ever orbital launch attempt.
This was the first orbital launch attempt by the Chinese commercial company OneSpace. The four-stage, solid-fuel OS-M booster apparently failed after first stage separation. The launch was conducted from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
CEO Shu Chang, whose company has successfully launched two suborbital OS-X boosters, vowed to carry on.
“We will endeavor to launch another OS-M carrier rocket, as well as two to three OS-X suborbital rockets before the end of this year,” Shu said late Wednesday at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert, where the first OS-M rocket mission was undertaken.
“I accept today’s failure,” he said. “Other solid-propellant carrier rockets before ours also have had setbacks in their development, but all of them passed through hard times and eventually succeeded. Explorations in science and technology have successes and failures. We will never flinch or quit.”
The booster was carrying a small satellite built by the Chinese company ZeroG Technology.
The OS-M booster is capable of payloads weighing 205 kg (452 lb) into low-Earth orbit or 143 kg (315 lb) into sun-synchronous orbit.
This is the second failure by a Chinese commercial launch company. Last year, LandSpace’s Zhuque-1 rocket failed to reach orbit.
After a record 39 launches in 2018, China is planning to launch over 50 satellites aboard more than 30 launch vehicles this year, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has announced.
The manifest includes the return to flight of China’s largest launch vehicle, Long March 5, after a two-year stand down. The booster, which can lift 14 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO), failed during its second flight on July 2, 2017 after a successful maiden flight eight months earlier.
Landspace has concluded a damaged third stage reaction control system that developed a fuel leak caused the failure of the private Chinese launch company’s ZhuQue-1 rocket during its maiden flight on Oct. 27, GB Timesreports.
The anomaly, which occurred 6 minutes 42 seconds after liftoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, made the rocket go out of control and sent the Weila-1 (Future-1) micro-satellite plunging into the Indian Ocean.
The conclusion is a preliminary one. The company is conducting additional analysis to confirm the finding.
It was the first orbital launch attempt by a private Chinese space company. A number of Chinese commercial startups are competing for business in the orbital and suborbital markets.
Landspace said the three-stage rocket reached an altitude of 337 km (209.4 miles), which means it entered space without achieving orbit. The booster reached a top speed of 6.3 km/second (14,093 mph), which is below orbital velocity.
Chinese private launch company LandSpace suffered a setback on Saturday when its new three-stage Zhuque-1 small satellite booster failed on its inaugural launch.
Posted video shows the solid-fuel booster taking off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. However, media reports indicate the launch vehicle failed to orbit the Weilai-1 microsatellite aboard after the failure of attitude control on the third stage.
LandSpace is one of several private Chinese launch companies hoping to grab a share of the global market.
It was China’s 30th launch of the year and its first failure.
OneSpace launched the OS-X1 suborbital rocket on Friday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in another step toward orbital flights for the Chinese commercial launch company, according to media reports.
Gbtimes reports the solid-fuel Chongqing Liangjiang Star booster reached an altitude of about 35 kilometer during a 3m 20s flight. The first flight of the suborbital rocket was conducted in May.
The flight was captured from space by the Jilin-1, which was passing overhead at the time.
Gbtimes reports that Chinese startup Landspace is likely to launch the Zhuque-1 rocket next month in what would be the first privately developed orbital vehicle produced in that nation.
Aboard will be a small satellite named Future (Weilai-1/未来一号) for China Central Television (CCTV), which will carry out remote sensing and feature in a TV show.
Zhuque-1 is a 19-metre-tall, 1.35-metre-diameter three-stage rocket with a takeoff mass of 27 metric tonnes, producing thrust of 45 tonnes, making it capable of lifting 200 kg to 500 km Sun-synchronous orbit and 300 kg to a 300 km low Earth orbit.
According to Chinese state media, the rocket will be launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China. In September another company, OneSpace, will launch the first private suborbital rocket from Jiuquan, following its debut launch in May from a site in northwest China.
“The ZQ-1 rocket is a result of civil-military integration and also a product of China’s positive polices of developing a commercial space industry. In the future it can meet the demands of commercial satellite launches and undertake some tasks for the country,” Landspace CEO Zhang Changwu told CCTV+.