Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…

China’s Galactic Energy Aims to Ramp Up Production, Launches in 2022

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
January 30, 2022
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Employees stand in front of a Ceres-1 rocket. (Credit: Galactic Energy)

Translated from Chinese via Google Translate

by Wang Yuqing
Galactic Energy Intern

At 12:13 on December 7, 2021, Galactic Energy successfully launched the Ceres-1 (Yao-2) carrier rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, and successfully sent five commercial satellites into a 500km sun-synchronous orbit. So far, Galactic Energy has become the first domestic commercial rocket company with the ability to launch multiple satellites with one rocket.

In 2022, Galactic Energy is about to usher in a large-scale launch, that is, 5-6 launch missions, achieving an annual production capacity of 24 rounds. This also means that the final assembly and testing department will face unprecedented challenges. How they will provide guarantee for Galactic Energy to successfully complete the large-scale launch, the focus of this week’s Galactic Magazine is on the final assembly and final testing team.

On the premise of not affecting the work of the final assembly department, I had the honor to interview Huang Tianshu, the director of the general inspection department of the final assembly, Qu Xuan, the deputy director of the general assembly department, and several excellent final assembly team members.

The final assembly and test work of the rocket is the last process of the rocket on the production line. The main work of the final assembly department is to assemble the power, structure, electrical, attitude control and other systems into a rocket with a launch function. The rocket is then graded, boxed, and transported to the launch site after multiple rounds of testing. When the rocket came to the launch site, the General Assembly and Survey Department was mainly responsible for the rocket’s installation at the technical position and the guarantee of the launch position.

Huang Tianshu, deputy commander-in-chief of solid arrow models. (Credit: Galactic Energy)

Q: Hello Mr. Huang, through your introduction, we can understand how important the rocket’s final assembly test is. So, from your point of view, what do you think is the responsibility and mission of the GA and TES team?

A: Our responsibility is to complete the rocket assembly and test tasks with quality and quantity, and ultimately provide customers with reliable and high-quality launch services. The general assembly and final inspection capability is an important part of the company’s core capabilities. The mission of the final assembly and final inspection department is to build a “final assembly and final inspection team” with excellent technology, quality and style through the team building, system construction and cultural construction of the department”, forming a general assembly and testing capability that meets the company’s development needs, and provides strong support and guarantee for the realization of the company’s development strategy.

Qu Xuan, chief technician of general assembly. (Credit: Galactic Energy)

Q: Hello, Mr. Qu, through communication with Minister Huang, we learned that the youngest strength of the assembly team is “00”, and he has held a very important position in the final assembly of the remote second rocket. Can you tell us about the composition and age structure of our final assembly team?

A: By the end of 2021, there will be 30 people in the final assembly department, 11 of whom will participate in the Ceres-1 (Yao-2) launch mission. At present, the business scope of the final assembly department mainly includes the attitude control power system, the assembly of the liquid engine and the general assembly of the rocket. The age of department leaders is around 40 years old; the age of technicians is in the range of 25-27 years old; the age of front-line operators in general assembly is generally around 23 years old. The entire department is scientific and reasonable in terms of age structure, and at the same time shows the energetic side of the final assembly department.

Next, let’s step into the final assembly and test operation base, find them working in different positions, and listen to their stories~

Li Bing, solid rocket general assembler. (Credit: Galactic Energy)

Q: Minister Huang said that you have “one-handed ‘unique ability’ to process tiny holes”, what is your secret?

A: Minister Huang has won an award. There is no such thing as “unique skills”. This work is only part of my work. In the rocket assembly, various problems may be encountered. For example, a small hole with a diameter of 0.1mm and a depth of 1mm needs to be punched in the titanium alloy , and then follow-up work is carried out When I first learned to drill, I was always bad at drilling. Later, I learned a lot of rules summarized by predecessors from books and masters. For example, the speed of the drilling rig should be configured before drilling, and different materials should be selected according to different materials. Drills, when drilling, mastering the angle between the drill and the workpiece, these take some practice. In short, it is more learning and more practice, practice makes perfect.

Q: For the company’s mission plan in 2022, how would you interpret the three words “risk”, “opportunity” and “challenge”?

A: Everyone in the company will seriously study the company’s annual goals at the beginning of the year, and formulate their own work plans according to this goal. This year will usher in the mass production of solid arrows. “Risks”, “opportunities” and “challenges” are not only the company’s needs to face, but also our team, including myself, need to face. Aerospace is a “high-risk” industry. As the number of tasks increases, the risks will definitely increase. What I need to do is to strictly control the assembly quality of each link to minimize the risks.

Compared with last year’s task volume, our work this year may be several times that of the past, which is undoubtedly a huge challenge. It can be seen that in the face of risks and challenges, we have embarked on the road of mass production, and from the perspective of the entire commercial rocket field, we are the first company to mass-produce products, and this opportunity is unprecedented.

Compared with the three, I prefer to use “opportunity” to express my feelings about this year’s mission plan, because “risk” is the attribute of this industry, and “challenge” is that we are racing against ourselves, and finally “opportunity” is the You should take control of yourself.

Tian Qiankun, solid rocket general assembler. (Credit: Galactic Energy)

Q: I heard that the glass fiber powder on the glass cloth used in the thermal protection of the Ceres No. 1 remote two arrows can easily cause skin rashes and itching, but you have never complained. What kind of beliefs do you have in your heart?

A: Aerospace work is sacred and meaningful in my heart, and I am very proud of it. I have a sensitive constitution, and it is indeed easier to cause allergies, redness, swelling and itching, but this is nothing compared to a rocket launch. It is a request I made to myself, and I am honored to contribute my modest contribution to the successful launch of the rocket. I am also very grateful to my colleagues who care about me at work.

Q: At work, who is the one colleague who has helped you the most? How exactly did you help? Tell your stories.

A: It was my first time to work and I came to the big family of Xinghe. My colleagues around me gave me a lot of help and care; I will give an example of my colleague and I flexing: I have not been in aerospace for a long time, and I have no relevant experience before. . Starting from scratch, it is inevitable that there are many things to ask him for advice. He always guides patiently, and he is not impatient at all when he is very busy and tired. I am very moved; he also cares about us very much in life. I had a cold last winter. When he found out, he immediately found someone to help me go out to buy medicine , and told me to take medicine on time, so that my body could recover quickly. In this big family, everyone’s help and concern have given me more spiritual strength and encouraged me to move forward. I also hope that I can grow up quickly and can share more for everyone.

Tian Takesheng, solid rocket general assembler. (Credit: Galactic Energy)

Q: What kind of work did you do before joining Galactic Energy? What do you think is the biggest change in your career changing into commercial aerospace?

A: Before changing careers, I was engaged in composite material operations in a supporting manufacturer. At that time, I never dared to imagine that one day I could build rockets myself. After coming to the company, the biggest change that brought me should be the change in thinking . After working in the final assembly for a period of time, I feel more and more that work must be done carefully, strictly control the quality, and must strive for excellence. Under the leadership of the two ministers, our team has developed some very good habits, such as today’s work, today’s completion, and the final assembly problem will not stay overnight . After get off work every day, I have to summarize the work of the day. I learned a lot of assembly skills about rockets at work. At the same time, I became more careful, serious, and had a deeper understanding of quality. I wrote a daily work summary and deepened my understanding of the rocket body. know.

Q: In the final assembly task of Ceres No. 1 Remote 2, what was the difficulty that impressed you the most? How did the team overcome these difficulties?

A: In the process of final assembly work, there have also been many problems. Fortunately, everyone actively tried to solve the problems. The biggest difficulty is to review the final assembly work. Towards the end, I was the most nervous, and turned over every night at the shooting range. Take out the photos of the previous work, look at them one by one, and check the gaps. I often see them late at night. Only by insisting on a careful and serious work style can we be responsible for our rocket body . Staying up all night and working hard is nothing. Our rocket can be successfully launched. It is the greatest recognition of our work!

Huang Kuo: general assembly post of orbit and attitude control system. (Credit: Galactic Energy)

Q: You have experienced two launch missions of the Ceres solid rocket. What role did you play? How did you feel about the two launch missions? Is there any difference?

A: In these two tasks, I was mainly responsible for the assembly of the orbit and attitude control power system . I feel very lucky and proud to have had this life experience. Two launch missions, my feelings are still somewhat different.

In 2020, when Ceres solid first flew, it was also the first time in my life that I experienced a rocket launch test. I was both curious and in awe at the same time. Curiosity is a life experience that I have never had before, and it brings me a sense of freshness. Reverence stems from the properties of the orbital attitude control power system product itself. Every catheter in the system is like a blood vessel on the human body, connected to solenoid valves, valves, gas cylinders, and storage tanks. The connection of each point in the system not only evaluates the robustness of the design, but also the reliability of the assembly. If there is a problem with the assembly quality of the product, it may cause damage to the product and personnel during the subsequent filling and air tightness inspection. Therefore, in the assembly process of the orientation control, I always take every job seriously with awe. 2021 will be my second launch mission and my second year as an astronaut. What I feel this time is a deeper understanding of the astronaut’s spirit of hard work and selfless dedication . At the same time, more often I feel that I have a greater responsibility and a heavier burden on my shoulders. Not only do I have to do my job well at work, but I must constantly improve myself in business, but also accumulate operational experience and skills, and pass on the experience and technology. .

Zhang Zicheng, left, general assembly post of orbit and attitude control system. (Credit: Galactic Energy)

Q: I often see you and Huang Kuo always together at the final assembly site. Can you tell me why? Did you have any unusual experiences on two launch missions?

A: Huang Kuo and I are “comrades-in-arms” in the same trench, responsible for the assembly of the orbit and attitude control power system. We cooperate very closely in our work, which is actually related to the nature of our work. When assembling the system, for individuals, they must be meticulous and do every job seriously, which is a requirement for personal quality. At the same time, we also set up a mutual inspection post, and two people in the same post conduct back-to-back inspections on each other’s assembly quality, which systematically reduces the quality risk caused by personnel operations.

If you want to talk about the different experiences of other members of the test team, you can really talk about it, hehe! Remember that at the launch site, according to the requirements, the test participants at the launch site must do relevant rescue drills. In these two rescue drills, I played the role of the “wounded”, and when the rescuers put me on a stretcher, I started to feel a little overwhelmed. But when I saw that they followed the steps of the rescue drill step by step seriously, I brought the attitude from my usual work to the drill, and finally completed the drill successfully. Participating in the rescue drill as “the first male protagonist”, I felt the tense but orderly atmosphere of the rescue scene. I think this experience must be different from the feelings of other test team members.

Finally, I believe that everyone has seen this. We have learned about the difficulties of the final assembly team together, and we are looking forward to the company’s success in the new year. This made me unable to help but ask Mr. Huang Tianshu:

In 2022, the company will usher in 5-6 launch missions and achieve an annual production capacity of 24 rounds. Can the current team size cover the launch demand?

A: At present, with a team of 30 people facing this year’s tasks, there is still a lot of room for improvement in staffing. Technically speaking, an average of 5-6 operators are required in the assembly process of each engine, and at the same time, the assembly of the attitude control system and the liquid engine needs to be taken into account, which is a rather arduous task. So, this year the department will be recruiting while working, expanding the size of the team to better accomplish the task.

In 2022, the General Assembly and Survey Department will continue to carry out the assembly, test, final assembly of components such as the orbital attitude control power system and liquid engine, as well as the construction of the final assembly and final test process, technicians, and production of solid rockets and liquid rockets. Assessment, strengthen the construction of process informatization, and ensure the completion of annual scientific research tasks.

The planning department will have a workforce of 30 in the first half of 2022 to meet the needs of small-scale production of Ceres-1 solid rockets in the second half of the year. By the end of the year, the workforce will reach 50, initially with orbital attitude control power systems, liquid engines and mass production of Ceres-1 solid rockets. ability.

In 2022, the General Assembly and Inspection Department will vigorously introduce talents, expand the final assembly team, and improve the post configuration; realize the transformation from part-time operation of technicians to full-time operation of skilled personnel, and realize the transformation from cooperative auxiliary operation to independent operation.

I believe that most of the college students after “00” are like me. When they were young, they wrote their dreams of spaceflight into their compositions. I would like to ask Mr. Huang and Mr. Qu, what are your expectations and messages for the students who are interested in becoming spacemen?

Huang Tianshu: We are fortunate to live in this great country and a great era, which is closer to our dream than any period in history. Exploring space is the eternal desire and pursuit of human beings. We are willing to be a pathfinder and a stepping stone for our classmates; All careers start from dreams, are based on innovation, and are based on hard work.” I hope that the students will focus on the future, be based on the present, lay a solid theoretical foundation, and learn professional knowledge. I look forward to joining China’s aerospace industry when they are successful. At the same time, contribute to the realization of China’s aerospace dream and the dream of a powerful country, pursue the dream of aerospace, and sail the galaxy!

Qu Xuan: China’s aerospace industry has a history of more than 60 years since the early days of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. From the time I started working to the present, I have deeply experienced the tremendous changes in the aerospace industry over the years. In 2021, my country will have 55 space launches, ranking first in the world. From the low-density, high-density, and normalization of rocket launches, I feel lucky to be able to catch up with the rapid development of the aerospace industry. I hope that students who are interested in becoming astronauts can learn professional knowledge and lay a solid foundation. The aerospace industry is a noble and great cause, and Galactic Energy is a place where dreams can be pursued. Students are welcome to join our company in the future to help China’s aerospace industry flourish.