China Eyes Smallsat Air Launch

Look out Stratolaunch, Generation Orbit and Virgin Galactic! It looks like you’re going to have some competition from China in the small satellite air launch market.

The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology has designed a solid-fuel rocket that could carry a 100 kg (220 lb) payload into low Earth orbit, said Li Tongyu, the head of the agency’s carrier rocket development…..

Li said the rockets would be carried by large Y-20 strategic transport planes before being launched and that the academy planned to eventually develop a larger rocket that could carry a 200 kg payload.

“The jet will hold a rocket within its fuselage and release it at a certain altitude. The rocket will be ignited after it leaves the plane,” Li said.

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  • windbourne

    anybody surprised? Not me.
    China’s gov targets everything that the west, esp America does and then tries to dump the heavily subsidized item on the market in an effort to destroy the west.

  • JamesG

    LOL. We tried that back in the 70s with the Minuteman.

  • windbourne

    Actually, it is atks Pegasus.

  • passinglurker

    like a full sized minuteman? dude spill what was this project called I gotta look it up!

  • duheagle

    It was done in 1974 out the ass end of a C-5A. Worked too.

  • duheagle

    Pegasus isn’t carried internally in Orbital-ATK’s L-1011. The same will be true of VG’s Launcher One and its 747 carrier. What the Chinese are describing sounds a lot more like that 1974 Minuteman-out-of-a-C-5A test. Given the 100 kg payload max, though, the Chinese rocket should be a lot smaller than a Minuteman.

  • duheagle

    China, even when its economy was growing 10% annually, couldn’t have afforded to “dump” enough of anything on any market to “destroy” the West. What they did do was take advantage of tariff reductions in the West to sell a lot of stuff at prices lower than Western producers could match. That’s undercutting on price, but it isn’t dumping. China made money on these deals. Dumping involves purposely absorbing an actual loss for non-economic reasons.

    China has never tried to dump launch services. It did undercut Western launch prices for a time – until the West in general, and the U.S. in particular, got tired of the associated espionage and IP rip-offs. That was pre-SpaceX. Since the rise of SpaceX, the Chinese have made it plain they can’t match its prices. Even if China were once again allowed to launch Western satellites, it wouldn’t be competitive against SpaceX. The same is likely to be true of Blue Origin once its orbital vehicle goes live. It may even be true of ULA’s upcoming Vulcan.

    I suspect the same will be true of this new Chinese smallsat launcher compared to offerings from Rocket Lab, Vector Space Systems and other Western providers that may be coming on-line over the next few years.

    Given that the bloom is now definitely off the rose anent the Chinese economy, the likelihood of China attempting to “dump” much of anything in the West seems nil. Even totalitarian regimes can’t entirely keep Western news out of their countries anymore. I don’t think the Chinese Communist Party leadership would much enjoy explaining why they had decided to make a gift of below-market launch prices, say, to already much richer Western countries. Public opinion matters even in dictatorships, especially when times are tough.

  • JamesG

    A Y-20 is a lot smaller than a C-5A.

  • JamesG

    But that doesn’t mean they won’t continue as much of a merchantilist strategy as they can get away with.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    That’s a fair amount of negative R velocity vector to overcome. Stratolaunch can probably toss their vehicle and avoid this, so can Virgin. It’ll all make for great YouTube video.

  • windbourne

    Actually, u are quite wrong. China targets industries and then dumps on them. For example, they subsidized and built their steel, aluminum, and then titanium industries and dumped on the west.
    Same with car parts, tires, solar panel, etc.

    Now, you are correct that after the Clinton deal , we dropped our tariffs, while they have raised their 90 tariffs to more than 500.
    America needs to follow China’s, Europe’s, and Mexico’s route and put up a VAT that is applied on everything including imports, and then give tax breaks to our industries using local part.

  • windbourne

    so, you are griping that because one is carried inside vs outside that they are not the same?
    So, if there is a VTVL rockets in America that uses steel tower and an erector at the pad, that will be considered different than one that has concrete tower and then transports to the pad in a vertical fashion.
    IOW, you see falcon 9 and FH as being radically different than saturn V is. Yes?

  • Larry J
  • JamesG

    Pegausus and a Miniuteman ICBM were pretty radically different too. Do your homework before posting.