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article imageChinese startup LinkSpace successfully tests reusable rocket

By Karen Graham     Aug 14, 2019 in Science
The Chinese company LinkSpace successfully flew a rocket prototype on its highest flight yet, then nailed the landing as the firm pursues reusable spaceflight technology.
LinkSpace Aerospace Technology Group is a Chinese private space launch company based in Beijing. The company was launched in 2014 by CEO Hu Zhenyu, Yan Chengyi, and Wu Xiaofei.
LinkSpace has built flying vertical-takeoff/vertical-landing (VTVL) prototype test rockets. The prototypes in development feature reusable rocket technology, capable of launching payloads of 441 pounds. (200 kilograms) into orbits that reach altitudes of 310 miles (500 kilometers), according to the company's website. By 2017, had successfully built three hovering rockets, tested in Shandong Province.
On April 19, 2019, the VTVL prototype test rocket RLV-T5 flew to a height of 40 meters (131 feet) and landed safely after thirty seconds of flight. RLV-T5, also known as NewLine Baby, is 8.1 meters (27 feet) in length, weighs 1.5 tons and has five liquid engines.
The latest launch was a success
In a flight that lasted about one minute, the launch on August 10, 2019, was conducted at the company's new facility in the Lenghu region of Qinghai province in the northwest of the country. The RLV-T5 reached an altitude of just over 984 feet (300 meters) and then came back to Earth, nailing its landing beautifully.
Wan Mei, vice president of LinkSpace, told the China News Service, “this is a new milestone in China’s reusable rocket research," according to Aerospace Testing International.
The statement also cited the reusability of the launch vehicle and other advantages such as low test cost and a capability of rapid iteration.
The company plans on moving forward with a kilometer-level test before proceeding to a larger RLV-T6 tech demonstrator rocket. A full test flight of the NewLine-1 orbital launcher, capable of carrying 200 kilograms to a 500-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit (SSO), is planned for sometime in 2021.
Space News is reporting that instead of the RLV-T5's five variable-thrust rocket engines which use ethanol and liquid oxygen, a propellant combination used by the German V2 rockets, the RLV-T6 will be powered by ‘Lingyun’ 10-ton thrust methalox engines developed by Jiuzhou Yunjian.
LinkSpace is after the small satellite market, according to Reuters and plans to offer nanosatellite launches at lower costs than their competitors. Of course, with all the newcomers to the small satellite launch system market, what will the world do with all those orbiting satellites?
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