Chinese commercial launch startup iSpace has completed its second successful flight of its Hyperbola 1 solid rocket.
The fifth Hyperbola 1 rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China at 12:00 a.m. EDT (0400 GMT, 12:00 p.m. Beijing time) on Friday (April 7).
The four-stage solid rocket successfully achieved orbit but carried no active payload. The aim of the flight was to verify the overall performance of the vehicle and obtain flight data, according to a company statement.
Beijing-based iSpace became big news as the first privately funded Chinese rocket firm to launch a satellite into orbit back in July 2019 with its first Hyperbola 1 launch. The company, however, went on to suffer three consecutive launch failures with the rocket.
Since then, competitors including China's Galactic Energy, Landspace and Space Pioneer have launched their own solid or larger and more complex liquid propellant rockets, leaving iSpace with work to do to catch up.
The company is also working on its own methane-liquid oxygen rocket, named Hyperbola 2, which will have a reusable first stage. iSpace is reported to be working toward hop tests of the new launcher.
The launch was China's 16th of year, with most being Long March rockets operated by China's main space contractor, CASC. Galactic Energy, Expace (a state-owned spinoff) using its Kuaizhou 1A rocket, and now iSpace have also been active.
CASC is planning more than 60 launches this year, and the total number of Chinese launches planned appears to number more than 80.