The battle for a warming market is heating up as companies create reusable accelerators
Several Chinese trading companies are competing to become the first non-state player to launch a cargo rocket into orbit.
The next attempt will be made by the start-up i-Space, which plans to carry out its first mission in the next route next month, a source in the company said today, asking not to be called.
The I-Space SQX-1 rocket is scheduled to explode at Jiuquan's launch center in the Gobi Desert in early June. If the mission succeeds, the rocket will carry three small satellites and four experimental space equipment, he said. It is the largest and most powerful rocket ever built by China's private space company, he said.
The SQX-1 has a diameter of 1.4 meters, a length of 21 meters and a lifting weight of 31 metric tons. Using solid fuel, it is able to transfer satellites weighing 300 kg to a low Earth orbit, or 100 kg of satellites to a synchronous orbit.
Meanwhile, i-Space has begun to design the SQX-2, a type of liquid rocket that can be re-used, added the source.
Private companies are keen to take advantage of business opportunities in the commercial prosperity market of the country.
China's leading rocket technicians – i-Space, LandSpace and OneSpace – spared no effort to develop their carrier missiles. Currently, these are mostly made by state-owned space giants. The carrier rockets are in short supply due to increasing demand for launch services in the booming satellite industry.
Senior executives in these companies are aware that the first private company to launch a rocket into orbit will bring not only honor but also lucrative contracts.
Previous attempts to launch an urban route by Landspace and one space failed on the flight.
Wang Yanan, editor-in-chief of Knowledge and Space magazine, said it was only a matter of time before private players achieved orbital launch because they were gaining strength in their research and development capabilities. Their existence has diversified and the market in China has proved good for the country's space industry, he added.
"The participation of private companies will significantly reduce the cost of launch and will help increase the commercialization of the entire space industry," said Wu Jianchian, CEO of the China Space Foundation.
He said private players with creativity and technology are essential for achieving the country's goal of being a strong space force.
As of the end of last year, 123 private enterprises in the Chinese mainland had registered in the space industry, 14 of which focused on rocket development and production, according to market data released last week by FutureAerospace, a privately owned space consultancy in Beijing.