Tue. Sep 27th, 2022

Chinese commercial launch Deep Blue Aerospace’s Nebula M1 VTVL test stage accomplished a 100-meter level takeoff and landing test. The Nebula M1 vertical takeoff and vertical landing tests were done at a facility in Tongchuan, Shaanxi Province, attaining a height of 100 meters prior to a powered vertical and descent landing, according to Deep Blue Aerospace. Liftoff occurs with landing legs completely deployed, according to footage from the test. The Nebula M1 hovers over takeoff and landing location before bouncing after landing but appears to remain upright at the completion of the video.

A Leiting-5 electric-pump-fed kerolox engine with controllable thrust powers the Nebula M1. The evaluation is portion of the growth of Nebula-1 orbital launcher, which will make its first flight in 2023 and has a diameter of 2.25 meters. The Nebula-1 will be able to lift 500 kilos into a Sun-synchronous orbit 500 kilometers away.

The test comes after a July “hop” to a height of roughly 10 meters, which employed the similar Nebula-M1 reusable VTVL model. The tests are referred to as “grasshopper leaps” by Deep Blue Aerospace, a reference to SpaceX’s Grasshopper test flights as a portion of Falcon 9 development. According to a spokesperson for Deep Blue Aerospace, technical team is presently examining test data before deciding on the next steps. The company is currently assembling the Nebula-M2 test stage as well as conducting tests on the launcher’s Leiting-20, which is a kerolox engine that has a 20-ton-thrust.

Beijing Deep Blue Aerospace Technology Company, Ltd. was founded in 2017 and is based in Nantong, near the Yangtze River’s mouth. It is one of a slew of Chinese private launch businesses that have sprung up since the country’s central government liberalized the market in late 2014. The Deep Blue Aerospace firm is notable for creating liquid launch vehicles directly rather than solid rockets, which a variety of Chinese firms have prioritized.

Several Chinese businesses are now working on reusable first-stage rockets. A tiny rocket-powered by ethanol and liquid oxygen reached a height of 300 meters in a Linkspace test in 2019. Since then, Linkspace has been virtually silent, with satellite images revealing no activity at the testing facility in Qinghai province’s Lenghu region.

iSpace and Space Pioneer are working on their hop tests, employing Tansuo-1 and Hyperbola-2 first stage evaluation vehicles, respectively. Meanwhile, after its first launch, that is planned in the coming months, Landspace plans to update its methalox orbital launcher, Zhuque-2, for reusability. Galactic Energy is working on a VTVL-able liquid rocket, Pallas-1, as it prepares for additional flights of the Ceres-1 solid rocket. Huo Liang, the company’s creator, began his career with China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) before joining OneSpace firm, one of China’s first commercial launch firms and a solid rocket manufacturer.

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