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First Launch For Biggest Chinese SpaceX Competition Fails

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by Gavin Hanson

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China’s first privately funded attempt to launch a satellite into Earth’s orbit failed during the final stage of its flight on Saturday around 4 a.m. EST, according to a Monday Quartz report.

An “abnormality” in the third stage of the Zhuque-1 rocket failed to put the CCTV satellite, named “Future,” into a sun-synchronous orbit around Earth, according to a Saturday Weibo post from LandSpace, the firm that developed and secured a license to launch the rocket.

LandSpace has yet to release information on how the mishap occurred and a statement from spokesman Guo Xin states that the company is investigating, CNN reports.

The Zhuque-1 three-stage rocket reportedly launched in the afternoon from a mobile platform at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, in northwest China. LandSpace is the first Chinese company to acquire a license to launch any payload into space since the Chinese Communist Party government shifted its stance to allow private firms to develop and utilize launch vehicles and small satellites in 2014.

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“The rocket flew normally after launch, the first and second levels worked normally, the fairing separated normally, and the third level was abnormal,” LandSpace’s long-form post to Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social media, said of its mission.

OneSpace, another Chinese rocketry firm, successfully tested a sub-orbital rocket flight in May that boasted “the first rocket developed and built entirely with homegrown technology.”

The Chinese state-run newspaper, The Paper, acknowledged before the launch took place that private Chinese rocket technology is far behind American counterpart, SpaceX.

SpaceX is headed for its third launch of a single reusable rocket, the Falcon 9, on Nov. 19, according to Ars Technica, and has reportedly obtained clients for its Falcon Heavy semi-reusable rocket which famously launched a Tesla car into space Feb. 6.

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