China’s First Private Space Rocket Launch Kicks Off

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Currently, the private spaceflight industry is dominated by the American companies but may not be for a longer time. China’s OneSpace Technologies a Beijing-based aerospace company conducted the first private rocket launch and successfully launched its 30-foot (9 meters) OS-X rocket from an undisclosed location (in northwest China) on a suborbital trajectory. It reported and altitude of 25 miles and travelled about 170 miles before falling back to earth.

Until now, the China National Space Administration (CNSA), the government’s space agency has dominated China’s space industry. Nearly after 50 years of a national space program, the country decided to get private enterprise into space too. In 2014, the government body of China allowed private companies were allowed to start working toward launching satellites.

OneSpace Technologies is the first private Chinese company to launch a rocket. The company’s CEO, Shu Chang compared OneSpace resemblance to SpaceX. OneSpace is emulating SpaceX by considering the line between being privately-run and government-funded. 

OS-X is a 29.5-foot solid-fueled single-stage rocket weighing about 7.2 metric tons with a top speed of more than 5.7 times the speed of sound. The company disclosed that the rocket has a payload capacity of 220 pounds (100 kilograms). OS-X is equipped with wireless communication devices, low-cost energy sources and its control system can be customized to meet customer demands. Besides OS-X, which is designed mainly for scientific research purposes, OneSpace has also the OS-M rocket in its fleet, which it plans to use for small satellite launches. The first flight of an OS-M booster is currently scheduled for late 2018.

Shu Chang (OneSpace Technologies CEO) says “the company plans to eventually build rockets capable of lifting larger satellites (and potentially humans) into space, OneSpace also uses solid rocket fuel, which is generally more stable and simple to build and further added, “this is the first rocket developed and built entirely with homegrown technology.

Ultimately, OneSpace hopes to become a go-to option for launching small satellites into orbit, with 10 launches due in 2019. While it won’t carry nearly as much cargo as companies like SpaceX or Orbital ATK. The launch signals a rapid start for commercial spaceflight in China. It’s not yet clear whether OneSpace will shake up the small satellite market.