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New Line 1 (Xin Gan Xian 1)

The New Line 1 (Xin Gan Xian 1) is a two-stage rocket under development hat works in a similar manner to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 booster. It is to be a liquid-fuelled rocket to launch microsats and nanosats, with a reusable first stage., with a diameter of 1.8 m (5.9 ft), height of 20 m (66 ft). It would have a lift-off mass of 33 tons and take-off thrust of 400 kN (90,000 lbf), allowing a payload of 200 kg (440 lb) to be lifted into a Sun synchronous orbit (SSO) of 250–550 km (150–340 mi) high. The first stage would have four liquid engines, fueled by liquid oxygen and kerosene, each producing 100 kN (22,000 lbf) of thrust.

Rocket powered launch vehicles have been used for many years to carry human and non-human payloads into space. Rockets delivered the first humans to the moon, and have launched many satellites into earth orbit, unmanned space probes, and supplies and personnel to the orbiting international space station. Despite the rapid advances in manned and unmanned space flight, delivering astronauts, satellites, and other payloads to space continues to be an expensive proposition. One reason for this is that most conventional launch vehicles are only used once, and hence are referred to as “expendable launch vehicles” or “ELVs.” The advantages of reusable launch vehicles (RLVs) include the potential of providing low cost access to space.

Previous RLV technology research, the mainstream direction is to use a space shuttle-like wing shape to achieve horizontal landing[7,8], And the recent successful recovery of the Falcon-9 rocket on land and offshore platforms proves that the rocket body can also be fully recovered. Compared with the winged shape/horizontal landing, the rocket shape/vertical take-off and landing fully inherits the existing The technical basis of one-off rockets does not require new development of complex-shaped wing rudders and other structural mechanisms, and no need to add complex heat-resistant structures, and only a small and simple field is required for landing, and there is no need to prepare a runway of several kilometers long.

Reusable launch vehicle (RLV) is a concept relative to "disposable launch vehicle". It means that after the vehicle takes off from the ground and completes the scheduled launch mission, it returns in whole or in part and lands safely. Fuel refueling, launch mission can be executed again[1]. The advantages and ultimate goal of repeated use is to reduce the waste caused by abandoning expensive rocket bodies, engines and electrical equipment after one-time use of the carrier, and to reduce the production and launch costs of the carrier by sharing the cost of multiple uses. RLV varies according to different The classification method can be divided into many types. According to the degree of reuse, it can be divided into partial reuse and complete reuse. According to the number of orbital levels, it can be divided into single-stage orbit (SSTO) and two-stage orbit (TSTO).

Reusable launch vehicles are an important direction for the development of space transportation. After more than half a century of development, the functional characteristics, carrying capacity, cost-effectiveness, technical approaches, and R&D models of launch vehicles have completed many leaps and innovations , It has experienced the transformation from entering space to back and forth from space to heaven and earth, from high pollution to pollution-free, from high cost to low cost, from one-time use to reusable, and from government research and development to enterprise research and development.

One of Chinese startups appears to be following in the footsteps of SpaceX as it has lately laid out its own project of reusable space launch system. Link Space, the country’s first private rocket company, has recently presented the design of its New Line 1 (also known as Xin Gan Xian 1) launch vehicle, which could compete with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 in the future. Link Space uncovered the design and some basic technical parameters at a 2017 presentation. The images revealed to the public show that the first stage of the newly developed launcher could feature similar landing system that is used in SpaceX’s flagship reusable Falcon 9 booster.

“SpaceX is very cool and Falcon 9 is extremely great, we take SpaceX as our goal and guider, because there are too many advantages for us to learn,” Hu Zhenyu, founder and CEO of Link Space Aerospace Technology Inc., told Astrowatch.net. The most important feature of the New Line 1 rocket will be obviously the reusability of its first stage, like in Falcon 9 boosters. This could greatly lower the cost of one single orbital launch. “The launch price is about 30 million yuan ($4.5 million) for each launch (with a totally new rocket), and this rocket will have an enhanced version with increased takeoff weight. By reusing the first stage of the rocket, the launch price will be reduced to about 15 million yuan ($2.25 million),” Hu revealed. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 offers a cost reduction of around 30 percent when its first stage rocket is reused.

Only the first stage of the New Line 1 rocket is reusable. However, Link Space has high hopes that a future iteration of the technology will also have a reusable second stage. As of the end of 2017, the main rocket engine has been tested over 200 times, and first launch was planned for 2020. By 2020 the company aimed for a full test flight of the NewLine-1 orbital launcher in 2021.

RLV technology represents the highest level of today's aerospace science and technology field, and its technology spillover and industrial upgrading effects will significantly improve the technical level and innovation capabilities of related fields, and promote national economic growth. Therefore, all major aerospace countries are developing RLV Technology as the focus of future development. Research on reusable launch vehicles is difficult and risky. Compared with disposable rockets, RLV is much more technically difficult, Involving pneumatic and thermal protection, power and Guidance, Navigation and Control (GNC).

With the continuous adjustment of development goals, countries have become more aware that development goals and programs must be adapted to the development level of key technologies, and goals are set too high and too advanced technical indicators will increase the difficulty of key technologies, and at the same time it will be difficult to reduce costs and improve reliability, and directly affect the achievability of the target, increasing the risk of development.

According to Hu, the development of the New Line 1 launch vehicle will consume about 300 million yuan ($45 million) and as of 2017 the maiden flight of the rocket could be conducted as soon as 2020. “The first orbital flight of New Line 1 is planned in 2020, which is an optimistic estimation because we know it's hard, and we plan to develop most of the core technology all by ourselves, such as deep-variable-thrust liquid rocket engine, flight control system, landing systems and so on,” Hu noted. Link Space hopes that the New Line 1 rocket will attract the interest of commercial companies worldwide. The company also believes that the launch vehicle will also carry out some missions for the Chinese government.

Link Space’s bold plans show that it could be only a matter of few years when SpaceX’s monopoly in this field could be broken up. “We also believe that a good technical trend should not belong to a single company, and Elon has said that the reusable rocket is certain to be more and more common. In fact, a lot of similar programs are very different in detail. Although it looks similar in appearance, if you want to make it really work, you must do everything from zero to design and manufacture the whole rocket,” Hu concluded.

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Page last modified: 04-11-2021 18:32:17 ZULU