Americans are suspending the maiden flight of SpaceX Starship for so long that Chinese scientists managed to spy on Elon Musk’s rocket design and started building their own version. The billionaire has reasons to be dissatisfied, because Asians will most likely launch a missile before him.
Elon Musk is probably having his hair torn out by US authorities. The local government has been suspending the first space flight of the SpaceX Starship rocket for a year. Buried in bureaucracy and environmental concerns, the Americans are giving way to the Chinese, who seem to be ahead of SpaceX at their own game.
China copies the SpaceX Starship rocket
The state-owned company China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) is expected to make significant breakthroughs in the technology of reusable space rockets, something SpaceX was previously famous for.
According to the head of CALT, Wang Xiaojun, the system will consist of a capsule and a rocket booster. Both are to be able to land vertically and be reused. After being launched and used up, the rocket is supposed to return to Earth on its own. The capsule will first slow down using special wings and then land safely vertically.
The concept itself sounds like a well-known model of how SpaceX systems operate. Industry experts began to point out that the rockets created by the Chinese are similar to Starship.
A Chinese startup is testing its own version of Starship – it’s a miniature one
Among other things, the recent tests of the Longyun-70 engine were closely watched. This is a joint initiative of CALT, manufacturer Jiuzhou Yunjian and the Chinese startup Space Epoch. The latter company is fast approaching the test launch of a space clone of Starship, which may embarrass the Americans.
The unit uses fuel combining liquid methane and oxygen (methalox). However, the construction of the engine used by the Chinese is much less complicated if we compare it with the advanced Raptor engines used by Elon Musk’s company.
This has its pros and cons. On the one hand, Longyun-70 is certainly simpler to build and cheaper. On the other hand, it has much less power, which also translates into lower lifting capacity. The American Starship and Super Heavy sets are to be able to carry a payload weighing up to 100 tons to low Earth orbit. The Chinese equivalent is to have a load capacity of only approximately 20 tons.
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