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Beijing, April 9 – China has announced a price war on Elon Musk-run SpaceX, with doubling down on reusable rockets as part of its new aerospace programme.
A new aerospace launching system is under development in China that requires cutting the cargo cost per kilogram to 5 per cent to that of the existing Long March rockets, reports South China Morning Post.
“The Long-Range Aerospace Transportation System, being built at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the nation’s largest aerospace defence contractor, can carry more than 60 tonnes of cargo to near-Earth orbit – about the same capacity as SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket,” the report mentioned.
The hypersonic space plane could deliver the same payload from Shanghai to an airport in San Francisco in less than an hour.
According to project lead scientist Song Zhengyu of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, space authorities require the plane to be reused more than 100 times and have fewer than three failures per 1,000 flights.
In recent years, SpaceX has also cut its launch cost to about the same as that of the Long March rockets.
China also plans to launch nearly 13,000 internet satellites to counter SpaceX’s Starlink.
Meanwhile, China recently carried out a successful rocket vertical landing test at sea.
The technology would lay the foundation for future applications including a recyclable near-space experiment platform as well as the development of space travel, reports state-run Global Times.
CAS Space, a commercial spaceflight firm that is partly owned by CAS, revealed that it successfully carried out the launching-from-land and landing-at-sea flight trial in Haiyang, East China’s Shandong Province.
“The rocket prototype flew at an altitude of more than 1,000 metres, descended in a smooth hovering fashion and then decelerated thanks to the engine reverse thrust,” the report mentioned.