China’s private space industry hit a milestone yesterday: i-Space, a three-year-old Beijing-based startup, announced on WeChat (link in Chinese) that it had successfully launched a rocket into orbit.
“Designed and built by i-Space, and measuring about 20 meters (66 feet) in length, the Hyperbola-1 took off at 1pm from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region, and just minutes later deployed the two satellites it was carrying into near-Earth orbits,” the South China Morning Post reported.
Last year, i-Space was also the first company to launch a space rocket without a payload in April 2018. Its competitor, OneSpace, followed up the next month with the launch of a payload-carrying rocket. See the second top story in the May 21, 2018, SupChina Access newsletter for more.
i-Space’s successful launch to orbit follows two failures, by OneSpace in March 2019 and by another company, Land Space, in October 2018. China’s private space industry is only five years old — prior to 2014, Beijing did not allow private investment in the sector, while in the U.S. SpaceX became the first private company to launch satellites in 2008.
But the industry is growing fast in China, and “annual revenues from space-related business — currently worth $350 billion — could nearly triple in size by 2040, according to investment bank Morgan Stanley,” the Financial Times notes (paywall).
For more general information on the launch and what it means for China’s private space industry, see:
- iSpace successfully launches China’s first commercial rocket / Sixth Tone
- The first commercial carrier rocket by China’s private companies launched into orbit / Pandaily
For a detailed look at the technical aspects of i-Space’s launch, and efforts by other private industry players in China, see SpaceNews: Chinese iSpace achieves orbit with historic private sector launch.