The launch of a solid-fueled rocket designed by the Chinese commercial space firm iSpace on Tuesday failed, marking the startup's second failure in three orbital attempts.
According to China's state media agency Xinhua, this is the second failure of this rocket type in less than six months.
The new rocket, called Hyperbola 1, took flight at 3:39 a.m. EDT on Aug. 3 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. However, the rocket failed to deploy its satellite in orbit as planned after launch.
The payload lost on the flight was not identified by Chinese officials, however, it is believed to be a single satellite known as Jilin-1 Mofang-01A. Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co. operates the Jilin-1 series of Earth observation satellites.
There has been no official update from iSpace.
SpaceNews said in a report on the Hyperbola 1 failure that China began privatizing some of its launches in 2014, in what emerged to be a response to the United States' increased focus on commercial spaceflight over the last decade, which has culminated in more launches from newer companies like SpaceX.
The U.S. also has a slew of startup space companies eager to embrace technology such as Relativity Space's 3D printing. These new startups hope to reduce the long-term cost of launches, despite the fact that the majority of these fledgling enterprises have not yet launched rockets into space.
iSpace said the Hyperbola 1 rocket is made up of four solid-fueled stages that are supported by liquid-fueled attitude control engines.
According to a data sheet provided on iSpace's website, the Hyperbola 1 rocket is around 78 feet tall and produces approximately 173,000 pounds of liftoff thrust. It is capable of delivering a payload weighing up to 660 pounds to a 310-mile-high sun-synchronous orbit.
In July 2019, the first launch of a Hyperbola 1 rocket was successful, making iSpace China's first privately-managed company to deliver a satellite into orbit.
The Hyperbola 1 rocket was updated and launched on Feb. 1, but the vehicle drifted out of control shortly after liftoff.
Xinhua pointed out that the recent failure of a Chinese commercial rocket may signal growing difficulties as the country opens up its space sector to more private participation.