Chinese Commercial Space Companies Emerge


The U.S. commercial space industry got increased competition from an unexpected source on Saturday when a Chinese company launched its first private rocket. OneSpace Technologies sent an OS-X rocket to an altitude of about 25 miles from a secret launch site in northwestern China. The GB Times reported the 30-foot single stage solid fuel vehicle named the Chongqing Liangjiang Star flew for four minutes and 15 seconds, reached Mach 5 and covered 170 miles before falling to earth in the target area. It was the second private launch this year after i-Space got a rocket to 100 km, just above the so-called Karman Line, the boundary between atmosphere and space. At least four other companies are working on launch vehicles. But OneSpace says it’s targeting a different market by offering relatively low-cost access to space for small payloads.

According to the Chinese publication, OneSpace Technologies has figured out how to lighten its rockets to the point that it will eventually be able to offer orbital insertions for less than $10,000 a kilogram (2.2 pounds). The first orbital launch for the company is set for sometime in 2020. China opened up the space business to private enterprise in 2015 and the government is itself an investor in some of the companies.