Kaituozhe (rocket family)

Summary

The Kaituozhe (Chinese: 开拓者; pinyin: kāi tuò zhě; lit.: pioneer) or KT rocket family is a series of launch vehicles built by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).

Kaituozhe-1

Kaituozhe-1 (KT-1) was small, solid fueled launch vehicle based on the road mobile DF-21 IRBM with an additional upper stage (in total 4 stages[1]). It was 13.6 meters in length and 1.4 meters in diameter, with launch mass of 20t. It was possible to launch KT-1 both from a truck-based platform or from airborne platform.[1] It had a 100 kg to LEO payload capacity. It was possibly the launch vehicle for a Chinese ASAT system that was tested against an old Chinese weather satellite in 2007.[2]

The vehicle has performed two flights, the first in 15 September 2002 and the second 16 September 2003. The first flight failed to place a 50 kg satellite into polar orbit due to a second stage malfunction. The second flight was also a failure, however Chinese officials declared some success citing the guidance systems, fairing separation and satellite-launcher separation as successful. The second launch sent the payload, PS-2 microsatellite (40 kg) into wrong orbit. The satellite completed barely one orbit before re-entering the atmosphere.[1]

The Kaituozhe-1 launcher appears to have been cancelled after two unsuccessful launches. A third (in 2004) and fourth launch have been rumored, but are not confirmed.[2][1]

The rocket had three variants: the Kaituozhe-1 (KT-1), the Kaituozhe-1A (KT-1A, originally designated KT-2, not to be confused with KT-2 below) and the Kaituozhe-1B (KT-1B, originally designated KT-2A, not to be confused with KT-2A below). The rockets that flew were of the KT-1 variant. The KT-1A and KT-1B variant rockets were not built.[1]

Kaituozhe-2

Like its predecessor the Kaituozhe-2 (KT-2) is a solid-fueled launch vehicle which could be based on the DF-31 missile.[3] Two versions have been proposed:[citation needed]

Kaituozhe-2

The Kaituozhe-2 (KT-2, AKA Kaituo-2) features a possibly DF-31 based stage 1, topped by a small diameter stage 2 and 3. It has reportedly a payload of 800 kg to low earth orbit.[4]

The maiden flight of the Kaituozhe-2[5] took place at 23:45 UTC on March 2, 2017 from Jiuquan (apparently from one of the two solid rocket launch pads[1]).[3][6] The rocket placed the Tiankun-1 (TK-1) satellite into polar orbit.[7]

The KT-2 is a rapid-response launcher; the rocket is capable of mobile-launch from a transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicle.[1]

Kaituozhe-2A

The Kaituozhe-2A (KT-2A) features a possibly DF-31 based stage 1, augmented by two DF-21 based strap-on boosters. It features a stage 2 with the same diameter as the stage 1 and the same smaller diameter stage 3 as the Kaituozhe-2. It has reportedly a payload of 2000 kg to low earth orbit.[citation needed]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g "CASIC KT-2 lofts small satellite into orbit". 3 March 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Kaituozhe-1 (KT-1)". space.skyrocket.de. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  3. ^ a b Clark, Stephen (3 March 2017). "Small experimental satellite launched by new Chinese rocket". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 7 March 2017.
  4. ^ "Kaituozhe-2 (KT-2)". space.skyrocket.de. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  5. ^ Brügge, Norbert. "Kaituozhe KT-2". Spacerockets. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  6. ^ "Experimental Tiankun-1 lofted during secretive KT-2 launch". NASASpaceflight.com. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  7. ^ "China conducts secretive Debut Launch of Kaituozhe-2 Rocket – Spaceflight101".