China-based start-up LandSpace has developed a high-performance methane engine for space missions, thereby becoming the third firm in the world to have developed an advanced methane rocket engine.

The TQ-12 methane rocket engine ran a 20s trial at the company’s test facility in Huzhou, Zhejiang province.

High-performance methane engines have also been developed by US-based firms SpaceX’s Raptor and Blue Origin’s BE-4.

The engine uses liquid methane to serve as a fuel and liquid oxygen as an oxidiser.

Last week, LandSpace conducted four trial runs of the TQ-12.

The high-performance engine has a maximum thrust of 80mt and can be used on all kinds of rockets.

Carrier rocket ZQ 2 will be the first to leverage the new engine.

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According to LandSpace founder and CEO Zhang Changwu, the mass production of the new engine and carrier rocket ZQ 2 will begin at the company’s plant later this year.

The ZQ 2 will be the first rocket to feature this engine.

LandSpace’s facility is claimed to be the biggest of its kind in Asia.

The Huzhou facility will be able to produce almost 200 TQ-12 engines and 15 ZQ 2 rockets from 2022.

The first flight of the ZQ 2 is scheduled for 2020.

Last October, LandSpace launched its first rocket ZQ1 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The rocket failed to place a mini-satellite into orbit due to technical issues during the flight.