Domestic rocket start-up set for launch

Updated 2018-05-09 10:48:01

The solid-propellant engine (left) of One Space's OS-X carrier rocket and the rocket model were displayed in Southwest China's Chongqing on Tuesday.

One Space Technology eyes global market for mini-satellites

Domestic space company One Space Technology Co said on Tuesday that it is set to launch its first commercial rocket on May 17, marking a significant step for the start-up's ambition to meet some of the rising global demand for commercial rockets.

At a press conference held in Southwest China's Chongqing, executives from the company and local officials set in motion the final countdown for the launch from an undisclosed location in Northwest China.

Ma Chao, president of One Space, told the press conference that the carrier rocket has been transferred to a testing ground and the company's staff is doing final pre-launch work.

"We are trying our best to ensure success in this launch and the chance is more than 90 percent," said Shu Chang, founder and CEO of One Space. He explained that a successful launch means the payload is sent into the precise orbit specified by the client and has collected data. The client's name was not disclosed on Tuesday.

The OS-X, a solid-fuel rocket, is designed for suborbital flights in order to provide high-altitude research and test services.

It completed successfully a series of tests on its solid-propellant engine, which can be likened to the rocket heart, in December 2017, according to the company.

The launch was named Chongqing Liangjiang Star, highlighting the company's manufacturing base in the Chongqing Liangjiang New Area, a State-level district approved in 2010 by the State Council, China's cabinet.

One Space has invested 250 million yuan (.27 million) in the Liangjiang New Area to build a commercial space intelligent manufacturing base.

The maiden flight of One Space's OS-X rocket has drawn much attention in the domestic space industry sector, as well as in the worlds of venture capital and the media since the news came out at the end of 2017. It's the first private company in China to tap into this market.

"The maiden flight is set to lift the Chinese private commercial space sector from zero to one," said Tang Zongwei, deputy director of Chongqing Liangjiang New Area Management Committee.

The Chinese commercial space industry has long been dominated by State-owned contractors, but it took off after the central government announced its civilian-military integration strategy in 2015.

One Space is betting on the rise of commercial rockets in China and abroad. The company is also developing a bigger rocket called the OS-M, which is designed to send small satellites into low-Earth orbit. On January 22, One Space successfully completed a test for its proprietary liquid attitude control engine of the OS-M.

"We plan to conduct OS-M's first flight around the end of this year," Shu said, adding that the market for small rockets used to launch mini-satellites is considerable, with increasing demand in countries and regions along the routes of the China-proposed Belt and Road initiative.

"In the US commercial space sector, SpaceX has a 50 percent market share. But when it comes to mini-satellites weighing less than 500 kilograms, US customers usually go to Indian rocket producers," he noted.

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