Continuing our look at the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission’s 2019 Report to Congress, we examine China’s growing commercial space industry. [Full Report]
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
China is using aggressive state-backed financing to capture increasing shares of the commercial launch and satellite markets, making it more difficult for American companies to compete and threatening to hollow out the U.S. industrial base.
China is also leverage “military-civil” fusion to create a burgeoning commercial space sector by providing substantial state support. Nearly 90 new space companies have been created since 2014, most of which enjoy the support of the Chinese military, defense industrial base, or state-owned research and development institutions.
BEIJING (CGWIC PR) — At 11:26, September 12th, 2019 BJT, the 5-meter Optical Satellite was successfully launched by Long March 4B (LM-4B) launch vehicle from Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center (TSLC), with two small satellites aboard, ICE-PATHFINDER (also known as BNU-1) of Beijing Normal University and Taurus-1 of Shanghai ASES Spaceflight Technology Co. Ltd.
BEIJING (CGWIC PR) — China Great Wall Industry Corporation (CGWIC) today announced a Multiple Launch Services Agreement (MLA) with Satellogic, the world’s first vertically integrated geospatial analytics company. CGWIC will launch 90 of Satellogic’s spacecraft from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center. The first launch – scheduled for later this year – will deliver a dedicated payload of 13 of Satellogic’s spacecraft to Low Earth Orbit on a Long March 6 (LM-6) rocket.
Satellogic’s team of world-class data scientists is already leveraging its current fleet of spacecraft to deliver planetary scale insights and solutions for a variety of industries, including agriculture, forestry, oil and gas, and finance and insurance. The 90 spacecraft that Satellogic announced under this agreement will form an Earth Observation Satellite Constellation that will remap the planet at one meter of resolution every week and dramatically reduce the cost of high-frequency geospatial analytics.
SpaceX received $500 million of the nearly $1 billion in investment raised by commercial space companies during the first quarter of 2018, according to the Space Investment Quarterly report from Space Angels.
“SpaceX shows no signs of slowing down—after the inaugural flight of the Falcon Heavy, the company secured $500 million from Fidelity Investments to drive development of their satellite communications network, Starlink,” the report added.
The size of the global space industry, which combines satellite services and ground equipment, government space budgets, and global navigation satellite services (GNSS) equipment, is estimated to be about $324 billion. At $95 billion in revenues, or about 29 percent, satellite television represents the largest segment of activity. Following this is government space budgets at $76 billion, or 24 percent, and services enabled by GNSS represent, about $76 billion in revenues. Commercial satellite remote sensing companies generated on $1.6 billion in revenues, but the value added services enabled by these companies is believed to be magnitudes larger. Because remote sensing value added services includes imagery and data analytics from other sources beyond space-based platforms, only the satellite remote sensing component is included in the global space industry total.
Space Newsreports on pricing for the Long March, a family of boosters that has racked up an impressive series of launch successes:
The company selling Chinese Long March rockets on the commercial market said Sept. 24 that it is maintaining prices for telecommunications satellite missions at about $70 million, a price it says is backed by a 96 percent success record over 181 flights as of Sept. 23.
In a series of presentations here, officials from Chinese government agencies and China Great Wall Industry Corp. (CGWIC), the company that markets the Long March vehicle, said the Long March rocket has established itself with domestic and export demand despite the 15-year ban on U.S.-built satellite launches aboard Chinese rockets.
Until Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., arrived on the scene with advertised launch prices that bested even those of the Chinese, the Long March was considered the low-cost option among providers of rockets carrying satellites to geostationary transfer orbit, where most communications satellites are dropped off in orbit.
CGWIC officials point out that SpaceX has yet to prove its ability to maintain its prices — between $58 million and around $65 million for commercial customers — as it inaugurates its Falcon 9 v1.1 rocket and ramps up production to meet the company’s large commercial backlog.
BARCELONA, Spain (Barcelona Moon Team PR) — The Barcelona-based company, Galactic Suite, leading the industrial conglomerate, Barcelona Moon Team, announced it has signed a launch service contract for a Chinese rocket that will carry the Spanish robot to the Moon in June 2014 to attempt to win the $30 million Google Lunar X PRIZE.
The Google Lunar X PRIZE, the largest incentivized competition offered to date, challenges space professionals and engineers from across the globe to build and launch to the moon a privately funded spacecraft capable of completing a series of exploration and transmission tasks. The Google Lunar X PRIZE is one of four active competitions from X PRIZE Foundation, the leading nonprofit organization for creating and managing large-scale, global incentivized competitions.
Barcelona, March 19, 2012 (BMT PR) — Barcelona Moon Team, the only Spanish based team in the Google Lunar X PRIZE, has signed an agreement with China Great Wall Industry Corporation. The agreement completes the team’s capabilities in the lunar mission areas requiring the entry of foreign technology partners. The Chinese company will provide the team with the launch vehicle and propulsion system to place the Barcelona Moon Team spacecraft into lunar orbit, from where it can deploy the robot that ultimately will conduct the international competition objectives. To win the Google Lunar X PRIZE, a privately-funded team must successfully place a robot on the Moon’s surface that explores at least 500 meters and transmits high definition video and images back to Earth.