Landscape: Stainless Rocket Saga Unfolds

LandscapeImage Source: SteelGuru


Chinese startup Landspace announces plans for a reusable stainless steel rocket, Zhuque-3, designed for various payload capacities to low Earth orbit. Competing with Space Pioneer's Tianlong-3, the launch aims to augment China's commercial space endeavors. Challenges in steel manufacturing and potential market competition emerge while revealing a broader shift in China's commercial launch capabilities.


A recent unveiling by Chinese startup Landspace showcased their ambitions for a groundbreaking project, an innovative, reusable stainless steel rocket named Zhuque-3. The rocket, announced at the Mingyue Lake Aerospace Information Industry International Ecosystem Event, boasts a unique design with stainless steel propellant tanks and clusters of Tianque methane-liquid oxygen engines.

Landspace's Zhuque-3 is projected to have versatile payload capacities, from 20 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO) in its expendable stage, with recovery options facilitating 16.5 metric tons under trajectory and 11 metric tons returning to the launch site. However, details like test launch dates and rocket dimensions remain undisclosed, suggesting early stages in its development.

The announcement marks a significant milestone in China's commercial space initiatives, setting the stage for competition in a burgeoning market. Landspace's venture will encounter obstacles related to steel's weight and properties, posing challenges in manufacturing and fabrication.

This ambitious project arrives amid a landscape where fellow startup Space Pioneer prepares for its Tianlong-3 rocket launch, promising a competitive payload capacity to LEO. The emergence of such endeavors signifies a shift in China's commercial space ventures, moving beyond light-lift, solid-fueled launchers to more substantial and reusable liquid propellant rockets.

Landspace's foray into reusable stainless steel rockets echoes the country's growing interest in advancing commercial space capabilities. Notably, several other Chinese firms, including iSpace, Galactic Energy, Space Pioneer, and Deep Blue Aerospace, are also developing similar technology for reusable liquid propellant rockets.

Landspace's journey unfolds against the backdrop of China's evolving space sector, prompted by the government's initiative to open parts of the industry to private investments. Their strides in rocket development mark an earnest attempt to match global advancements, especially following their previous successes and setbacks in orbital missions.

The quest for stainless steel rocket technology isn't confined to Landspace alone; another newcomer, Space Epoch, conducted significant hot fire tests earlier, aiming for a comparable reusable stainless-steel launcher. Moreover, China's prominent space contractor, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC), envisions a future with a fully reusable super heavy-lift Long March 9.


The unveiling of Landspace's Zhuque-3, amidst a landscape of rising competition and evolving commercial space endeavors in China, signals a significant leap forward in reusable rocket technology. As numerous firms invest in stainless steel rocket development, the race for advanced, reusable rocketry paves the way for an exciting future in commercial space exploration.

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