Chinese company LinkSpace to develop reusable orbital rocket

Image courtesy of LinkSpace

LinkSpace, China’s first privately-funded NewSpace company, has announced it will offer a reusable version of NewLine-1, a two-stage orbital launch vehicle currently in development. NewLine-1’s maiden launch is scheduled for 2020, and the company plans to develop a reusable second stage for later versions of the NewLine family.

Initially, NewLine-1 was meant to be an expendable launch vehicle, but will now be reusable – the company has so far built and tested three prototype Vertical-Takeoff/Vertical-Landing (VTVL) rockets, the RLV-T1, -T2, and -T3. For the NewLine-1, the company will use a modified version of these prototypes, with slight modifications to the engine as well as to the landing legs.

NewLine-1, which will launch small satellites, will have a height of 20m and a diameter of 1.8m, and will be fueled by liquid oxygen and kerosene in its first stage. The rocket will be have a payload capacity of 150-200kg to a 250-550km Sun Synchronous Orbit (SSO), and will cater to the nanosatellite market. The company has revealed the estimated launch cost for its reusable rocket to be approximately US$2.25 millions, down from US$4.5 million for the expendable system.

Prior to the NewLine-1 launch, LinkSpace plans to conduct a sounding rocket launch this year, which has been the company’s core offering since its inception in 2014. Earlier this year, the company also launched its FMN-1 panoramic camera satellite, equipped with two miniaturized panoramic cameras, and which will also function as a repeater for amateur radio.

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