A private Chinese business has launched the world’s first methane-liquid oxygen rocket, in what could be a game-changing event for space exploration.

This accomplishment positions China ahead of competitors such as the United States, India, and Europe in the development of a next-generation launch vehicle capable of carrying payloads into orbit around Earth. The Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China launched the Zhuque-2 carrier rocket.

According to Reuters, this was the second attempt to launch the Zhuque-2 by Beijing-based LandSpace, one of the first firms in China’s commercial launch sector. The first attempt, in December, was unsuccessful. The rocket successfully launched a test payload into sun-synchronous orbit (SSO), making it the world’s first to do so.

Methalox is a methane-powered rocket that uses methane as fuel and liquid oxygen (LOX) as an oxidizer. It functions on the same principles as traditional launch vehicles, but with certain differences in propellant selection and design considerations. A methane-liquid oxygen rocket’s propellants are methane and liquid oxygen. Methane is a hydrocarbon fuel that can be derived from a number of sources, including natural gas. As a rocket fuel, it has various advantages, including high energy density, strong combustion properties, and availability.

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