A Chinese firm achieved a major milestone on Wednesday by successfully launching the world’s first methane-liquid oxygen rocket into orbit, outperforming the United States in the race to develop advanced space launch vehicles.
The rocket, named Zhuque-2, took off from China’s Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China at 9 am (0100 GMT) and completed its mission as planned, according to reports from state media.
This launch signifies the second attempt by LandSpace, a Beijing-based company involved in China’s commercial space launch industry, to launch the Zhuque-2. Their initial attempt in December was not successful.
With the successful launch of the Zhuque-2, China has taken a significant lead over its American competitors, including Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, in the race to develop carrier vehicles powered by methane. Methane is considered a more environmentally friendly, safer, and cost-effective propellant option for reusable rockets.