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The first launch of China’s Zhuque-2 rocket ends in failure

The first launch of China’s Zhuque-2 rocket, built by the pseudo-private company Landspace, ended in failure today when the upper stage had problems after separation of the first stage.

Apparent spectator footage posted on Chinese social media showed the rocket ascending into clear skies, trailed by white exhaust. While the first stage is understood to have performed well, separate apparent leaked footage suggests that issues affecting the rocket’s second stage resulted in the failure of the mission.

Data suggest an expected burn of the stage’s vernier thrusters, intended to carry the stage and payloads into orbit after a burn by the main engine, did not occur as planned.

If this launch had been successful, it would have made the Zhuque-2 rocket the first rocket to reach orbit using methane as a fuel, beating three different American companies, SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Relativity.

Relativity has been preparing for the first launch of its Terran-1 rocket since October, with a goal of launching before the end of the year. At the moment however no launch date is set, though the company’s CEO seems confident it will launch soon.

In addition, SpaceX has also been targeting the first orbital launch of its Starship/Superheavy rocket by the end of this year. As with Relativity, no launch date has been set.

The first launch of Blue Origin’s New Glenn rocket meanwhile is nowhere in sight, as yet. It was originally supposed to launch in 2020, but even now has four launches scheduled on its manifest for 2023. None however have been scheduled, and the first launch will likely slip to late in the year, if that soon.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit. If you buy it from ebookit you don't support the big tech companies and the author gets a bigger cut much sooner.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News

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