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ballthyrm t1_j9u7ft0 wrote

Cool Rocket ! Is the the race for the first methane engine to orbit still on ?


Adeldor t1_j9ua40s wrote

Yes. The first and most recent attempt (of which I'm aware) failed. I think Relativity's Terran 1 will be the next attempt. Of course, the big one - Starship - is also looking to March.


valcatosi t1_j9vkopo wrote

This really bugs me. Zhuque-2's methane stage operated nominally and a later unrelated stage failed. That has no bearing on "methane engine to orbit" and only has any possible bearing on "a rocket with some methane in it has a fully nominal mission". If the point is methane fueled to orbit, Vulcan and New Glenn (lol) are not in the running, since their methane stages don't get the vehicles to orbit.


mfb- t1_j9x4nmw wrote

The second stage of Zhuque-2 uses methalox, too.

I think "reaching orbit with a rocket that uses methane in at least one stage" is a somewhat interesting race. After decades of rocketry without methalox we now have several companies/rockets trying to do that within a year or so.


valcatosi t1_j9x5jzi wrote

>The second stage of Zhuque-2 uses methalox, too.

You're right, I stand corrected. I'm too used to Chinese rockets using solids.


Adeldor t1_j9vpa0c wrote

Fair point. In that light, the first "real" methalox attempts to orbit are the upcoming Terran 1 and Starship flights.


valcatosi t1_j9vrace wrote

I'm not really sure what the point of tracking "first methalox launch to orbit" is in the first place. Feels like just a No True Scotsman game. I'm excited to see all of these rockets launch but the fuel they use is not a primary reason why I'm excited.


BrangdonJ t1_j9yphih wrote

I see the switch to methane as part of a sea change in the launch industry. Part of the realisation that hydrogen sucks as a first stage fuel, which is significant because NASA in particular were fixated on it for decades (and still are for SLS). Part of the New Space willingness to rethink old assumptions and ways of doing things. The switch is a symptom rather than a cause, but still a sign of the times.


Adeldor t1_j9vs8i5 wrote

Beyond the interesting technical compromises, the only importance it has for me is the fact that until one actually makes it to orbit, it's yet to be proved. Needless to say, it's surely exceedingly unlikely some hidden gotcha making methalox impractical will surface.


valcatosi t1_j9vtalm wrote

Yet to be proved in what sense? There is no credible failure mode associated with methane being in the tanks when the vehicle makes it to orbit.