iSpace, aka, Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology Ltd., has become the first private Chinese company to launch payloads into orbit.
The company launched its four-stage Hypobola-1 rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert on Thursday afternoon local time.
iSpace reported the rocket deployed the CAS-7B amateur radio satellite and a technology verification satellite for China Central Television. Three additional payloads remained attached to the upper stage as planned.
This was the first orbital launch attempt by the Chinese commercial company OneSpace. The four-stage, solid-fuel OS-M booster apparently failed after first stage separation. The launch was conducted from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
CEO Shu Chang, whose company has successfully launched two suborbital OS-X boosters, vowed to carry on.
“We will endeavor to launch another OS-M carrier rocket, as well as two to three OS-X suborbital rockets before the end of this year,” Shu said late Wednesday at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert, where the first OS-M rocket mission was undertaken.
“I accept today’s failure,” he said. “Other solid-propellant carrier rockets before ours also have had setbacks in their development, but all of them passed through hard times and eventually succeeded. Explorations in science and technology have successes and failures. We will never flinch or quit.”
The booster was carrying a small satellite built by the Chinese company ZeroG Technology.
The OS-M booster is capable of payloads weighing 205 kg (452 lb) into low-Earth orbit or 143 kg (315 lb) into sun-synchronous orbit.
This is the second failure by a Chinese commercial launch company. Last year, LandSpace’s Zhuque-1 rocket failed to reach orbit.
I am very pleased to say that the OS-M launch vehicle has completed assembly rehearsal and is currently in the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center for final preparations. Thanks to all who’ve worked so hard on it!👏👏 Check out “OS-M assembly rehearsal” video!!😍 pic.twitter.com/AvE6uUGpaz
Editor’s Note: OneSpace says their attempt to launch the OS-M orbital booster is scheduled for Wednesday, March 27. If successful, it will be the first privately-backed Chinese rocket company to place a payload into space. (An attempt by LandSpace failed last year.)
The booster will be carrying a small satellite built by the Chinese company ZeroG Technology. The OS-M booster is capable of payloads weighing 205 kg (452 lb) into low-Earth orbit or 143 kg (315 lb) into sun-synchronous orbit.
This will be OneSpace’s third launch attempt. It twice flew its OS-X booster on suborbital flights in 2018.
After a record 39 launches in 2018, China is planning to launch over 50 satellites aboard more than 30 launch vehicles this year, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has announced.
The manifest includes the return to flight of China’s largest launch vehicle, Long March 5, after a two-year stand down. The booster, which can lift 14 metric tons to low Earth orbit (LEO), failed during its second flight on July 2, 2017 after a successful maiden flight eight months earlier.
There were 15 flight tests of eight suborbital boosters in 2018, including six flights of two vehicles — Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and Blue Origin’s New Shepard — that are designed to carry passengers on space tourism rides.
The race to provide launch services to the booming small satellite industry also resulted in nine flight tests of six more conventional boosters to test technologies for orbital systems. Two of the boosters tested are designed to serve the suborbital market as well.
A pair of Chinese startups took advantage of a loosening of government restrictions on launch providers to fly their rockets two times apiece. There was also suborbital flight tests of American, Japanese and South Korean rockets.
Throughout the Space Age, suborbital flight has been the least exciting segment of the launch market. Operating in the shadow of their much larger orbital cousins, sounding rockets carrying scientific instruments, microgravity experiments and technology demonstrations have flown to the fringes of space with little fanfare or media attention.
The suborbital sector has become much more dynamic in recent years now that billionaires have started spending money in it. Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin and Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic both made significant progress last year in testing New Shepard and SpaceShipTwo, respectively. Their achievements have raised the real possibility of suborbital space tourism flights in 2019. (I know. Promises, promises…. But, this year they might finally really do it. I think.)
OneSpace launched the OS-X1 suborbital rocket on Friday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in another step toward orbital flights for the Chinese commercial launch company, according to media reports.
Gbtimes reports the solid-fuel Chongqing Liangjiang Star booster reached an altitude of about 35 kilometer during a 3m 20s flight. The first flight of the suborbital rocket was conducted in May.
The flight was captured from space by the Jilin-1, which was passing overhead at the time.
Gbtimes reports that Chinese startup OneSpace plans to launch its second suborbital rocket by the end of the month.
The rocket will be an OS-X1 series suborbital rocket, named Chongqing Liangjiang Star, which has a height of 10.2 m, a diameter of 0.85 m and mass at liftoff of 8.1 metric tonnes. No information on the payload was made available.
The launch will take place at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in a desert region of Northwest China, which became China’s first launch centre when opened in 1958.
The OS-X1 rocket test team, which according to a press release consists of about 20 people with nearly half of which were born in the 1990s, is currently at Jiuquan for assembly of the rocket.
The first OneSpace launch—from a test base in northwest China and claimed to be the first launch of a privately designed Chinese rocket—took place on May 17 this year and saw the OS-X1/Chongqing Liangjiang Star fly for 265 seconds, reaching an altitude of around 40 kilometres and travelling some 273 km.
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.