China's Private Attempt to Send a Satellite-Carrying Rocket Into Space Fails

Larry Hoffman
October 31, 2018

"The rocket flew normally after launch, the first and second levels worked normally, the fairing separated normally, and the third level was abnormal", LandSpace's long-form post to Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media, said of its mission.

According to SpaceNews, the Zhuque-1 rocket cost approximately $14 million to develop and was approximately 62 feet (19 meters) tall, with a weight of just short of 30 USA tons. If the rocket launch would have gone as planned, Landspace would have become the first private licensed company to send a rocket into outer space.

The Chinese company LandSpace Technology Corporation has been unable to successfully put into orbit a commercial booster ZQ-1.

Developed by Beijing-based Landspace, the Chinese carrier rocket Zhuque-1, named after the Vermillion Bird from Chinese mythology, lifted off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in north-west China on Saturday, Oct. 27, around 4 pm local time.

It is reported by China Central television on Sunday, October 28.

China's first private carrier rocket ZQ-1 blasts off in Jiuquan, Gansu province, before failing. "That's already a great achievement", the company said in a statement. Landspace was founded a year later. The accident occurred on the third stage. Failure - due to technical dysfunction - is seen as a blow to China's ambitions, alongside space-based state activities, to create private space companies modeled on the American Space X of Ilon Mask.

China has been trying to join the independent space race - kick-started by Blue Origin, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic - since 2012, when President Xi Jinping declared that becoming a space flight superpower would be a priority for the country.

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