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Chinese private space company Linkspace has taken a step in its development of a reusable orbital rocket with a successful vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) test. VTVL has allowed US company SpaceX to launch, land and reuse its Falcon 9 rocket first stages, and will next week attempt the same with the new Falcon Heavy launch vehicle.
The breakthrough by Linkspace will be used for its own, much smaller rockets which will aim to provide low-cost access to space for clients looking to launch small satellites. The NewLine-1 rocket, with a reusable first stage, will be capable of carrying 200 kg of micro and nanosats to Sun-synchronous orbit up to an altitude of 500 kilometres. Linkspace is aiming for the maiden flight to take place in 2020
I have embedded below the fold a PR video from the company that shows a few seconds of this test.
The article also provides the status of another Chinese private smallsat rocket company, OneSpace, as well as an overview of the government’s policy in connection with these private operations.
OneSpace received support from the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence (SASTIND), which oversees China’s space activities, and has raised 500 million yuan (US$77.6m) through finance rounds since its establishment in summer 2015, according to Tencent Technology.
This follows a government decision in 2014 to allow the diversification of sources of income for space companies in an effort to boost innovation. This was backed up in a 2016 Space ‘White Paper’, which underlined commercial space activities and funding for the first time in a government document.