Deep Blue Aerospace, a Chinese commercial rocket company, announced on May 6 that its self-developed “Nebula-M1” test rocket had conducted a vertical takeoff, vertical landing (VTVL) test to an altitude of 1 kilometer. The rocket moved laterally during the flight, and finally landed at a point less than 0.5 meters away from the target.
The Nebula-M1 test rocket has performed three missions and seven static ignitions on the ground, achieving the recycling and reuse of liquid carrier vehicles. The “Thunder-5” engine it is equipped with is the first pintle kerosene-liquid oxygen engine manufactured with 3D printing technology in China.
The completion of this test means that Deep Blue Aerospace has achieved the same level of test results in only three launch tests in 10 months achieved by SpaceX’s eight launch tests in more than one year in 2012-2013. The company has become the second company in the world to complete all low-altitude engineering tests of vertical recovery and reuse of kerosene-liquid oxygen kerosene rockets.
The first such company to complete this feat was US-based SpaceX, owned by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Huo Liang, CEO of Deep Blue Aerospace, said: “It is one of the keys for human beings to develop space resources and move towards deep space to build an air-space round-trip transportation system by using reusable launchers.”
In the next stage, Deep Blue Aerospace will use the same full-scale test rocket as the orbiting rocket, and will continue the high-altitude recovery test stage, which is similar to the recovery test conducted by SpaceX in the second stage with the full-scale prototype “Falcon 9 R.” The company’s goal is to finally realize the controllable recovery and reuse of the first stage of the rocket in orbit.