A render of Zhuque-3 on a launch pad. ©LandSpace

What is the Zhuque-3 rocket?

After the third launch of LandSpace's Zhuque-2 rocket, the company revealed more information regarding its Zhuque-3 launch vehicle.

Zhuque-3 is LandSpace's in-development partially re-usable medium to heavy lift launch vehicle. LandSpace plans for Zhuque-3 to burn liquid methane and liquid oxygen fuels in its engines, the same fuels as Zhuque-2. The company is looking to use stainless steel to build the first and second stages.

LandSpace claims that Zhuque-3 will be able to lift up to 21,300 kilograms to low Earth orbit when expended, 18,300 kilograms when landing downrange on a drone ship or landing pad, or 12,500 kilograms when returning to the launch site.

A render looking up the booster of Zhuque-3. ©LandSpace
A render looking up the booster of Zhuque-3. ©LandSpace

Zhuque-3 is looking to be powered by nine TQ-12B engines on the first stage, for a combined nine-hundred tons of thrust, and a single TQ-15B engine on the second stage.

The boosters and second stage are currently planned to have a diameter of 4.5 meters. The fairing is planned to be 5.2 meters in diameter and split into two halves. The total height of Zhuque-3 is currently planned to be 76.6 meters.

For booster landing and reuse, three engines will be lit during re-entry followed by one being lit again for landing on a drone ship or landing pad. For boost-back burns, the booster will turn around in-flight after separation and relight one engine.

The boosters of Zhuque-3 are planned to be re-used up to twenty times!

A render of Zhuque-3's second stage in flight after fairing separation. ©LandSpace
A render of Zhuque-3's second stage in flight after fairing separation. ©LandSpace

Speaking to CGTN, LandSpace's Chief Executive Officer, Zhang Changwu, said the following about Zhuque-3:

"The Zhuque-3 carrier rocket is a large-sized single-stage liquid oxygen methane reusable launch vehicle specifically developed in response to market demand amid construction of China's national satellite-based internet project," – "Over the past two years, we have made significant progress from project initiation to advancement for the engineering project to the roll-out of the final product. We are also expected to achieve the milestone of product delivery in 2025," – "For the Zhuque-3 carrier rocket, we have made numerous breakthroughs in the fundamental experiments for making it. We have achieved groundbreaking progress in the rocket's material, the upgrade of the thrust of the rocket engine and the algorithm for single-stage reusability"

LandSpace also provided an infographic on Zhuque-3's flight plan for a low Earth orbit mission (attached below), a translation is provided after the image.

Infographic on Zhuque-3's flight plans. ©LandSpace
Infographic on Zhuque-3's flight plans. ©LandSpace
1 Take off
2 First-stage engine shutdown and stage separation
2.1 Re-entry adjustment
2.2 First-stage 'dynamic' deceleration
2.3 Landing leg deployment
2.4 Successful first-stage landing
3 Second-stage engine start
4 Fairing separation
5 Second-stage engine shutdown
6 Satellite deployment

Who is LandSpace?

LandSpace Technology Corporation is a Chinese private space launch provider based out of the city of Beijing and was founded by Zhang Changwu in 2015.

The company launched its first rocket, Zhuque-1, on the 27th of October 2018 but failed to reach orbit. Zhueque-1 was a three-stage all solid propellant rocket that was aiming to lift 300 kilograms into orbit until its cancellation in favour of Zhuque-2. LandSpace has so far launched all of its rockets from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center located in the Gobi Desert in northern China.

LandSpace is also actively developing Zhuque-3 for a maiden flight planned in 2025.

The logo of LandSpace as of 2022.
The logo of LandSpace as of 2022.