China’s SpaceX wannabe recycles a rocket after just 38 days

The private Chinese launch enterprise i-Space has successfully recycled a rocket just 38 days after its previous take-off.

i-Space, also known as Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology Company, is an operation that is backed by China to tap into the export market, just as it does with other successful projects in its private sector.

As reported by The Register, i-Space’s mission has been likened to Elon Musk’s Space X because its boosters make a vertical landing after most of the work is done, however, one key difference is that it is yet to reach orbit.

Despite that, progress has been made by the Chinese company after it set off a rocket on 10 December. That marked an impressive turnaround of 38 days from when the SQX-2Y test rocket first launched.

Using a liquid/methane combo for fuel, the Hyperbola-2Y test mission soared to over 170 meters before it returned to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.

The entire mission was completed in just over a minute, 63.15 seconds, according to a press release from i-Space.

Next objective for China’s i-Space

The company has pledged to use the new flight data to push on with its plans in the coming months.  A test at sea will follow in 2024, once ground checks have been completed as i-Space inches closer to a first flight for the Hyperbola-3 rocket in 2025.

Standing at 69 meters long, the rocket will be able to lift 8.5 tons to low Earth orbit (LEO) in reusable mode.

i-Space wants to accelerate its operation in line with planned growth to the extent that it will be able to conduct 25 Hyperbola-3 launches per year by 2030.

If that materialises, the company is likely to find further backing and support from a partner in the form of the Chinese state, following on from their existing collaboration.

Other start-up companies developing launchers, with several named here, are not far behind iSpace in the race into orbit, following a 2014 policy shift in China.

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