by Douglas Messier
Galactic Energy, which became the second private Chinese launch provider to orbit a satellite on Saturday, has announced that it completed a Series A financing round of 200 million yuan ($30.25 million) in September.
In a press release, Galactic Energy said the funding will be used to manufacture and perform upgrades on the solid-fuel Ceres-1 small-satellite booster that flew last week. The funding will also allow the company to continue research and development on its larger liquid-fuel Pallas-1 (Zhishen-1) booster.
“It is expected that by 2021, the company will gradually improve the mass launch capability of Ceres-1. In 2022, complete the first flight of Zhishen-1 into orbit,” the company said.
Huaqiang Capital led the Series A round with the participation of Qifu Capital, Dawu Venture Capital, Yuanhang Gaomai Capital, Federal Reserve Guantian, and Anhui Jiangnan Industrial Investment.
Galactic Energy has raised 500 million yuan ($76.3 million) since it was founded in February 2018. The company completed a pre-Series A round of 150 million yuan ($22.39 million) in October 2019, at which time Galactic Energy said it had raised 300 million yuan ($45.38 million).
PricewaterhouseCoopers and Huaqiang Capital led the Pre-Series A round with the participation of Federal Reserve Ventures, Sichuan Business Funds and Yecao Ventures. Existing shareholders New Potential Capital and Meihua Ventures made additional investments with Yunxiu Capital continuing to serve as financial advisor for the pre-Series A round.
Ceres-1 orbited the Tianqi-11 Internet of Things (IoT) satellite for the Beijing Guodian Gaoke Technology Company’s Apocalypse IoT constellation after liftoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Nov. 7.
Tianqi-11 will be used for data collection and transmission. The spacecraft also carries a camera for educational purposes. The 50 kg (110 lb) spacecraft was built by Shanghai ASES Spaceflight Technology.
The Tianqi-10 satellite was launched in July as a secondary payload aboard a Long March 4B rocket.
Ceres-1, which is also known as Gushenxing-1 or GX-1, is a 19-meter long rocket consisting of three solid-fuel stages that use hydroxyl-terminated polybutadiene and a liquid fuel upper stage.
The booster is capable of launching payloads weighing 350 kg (772 lb) into low Earth orbit and 230 kg (507 lb) into a 700 km (435 mile) high sun-synchronous orbit (SSO).
Galactic Energy officials have said the company will charge customers a flat feel of US $4 million per launch. The company is working to reduce the price of orbiting satellite to below $10,000 per kilogram.
The two-stage Pallas-1 booster now under development will be powered by liquid oxygen and RP-1, which is a refined form of kerosene. Galactic Energy is designing the rocket to launch 4 metric tons (4.4 tons) to low Earth orbit or 4 metric tons (2.2 tons) into SSO.
The first stage, which will include seven rocket engines, will be equipped with grid fins and landing legs so it can be recovered for reuse.
Galactic Energy is aiming to serve companies that are planning to launch thousands of satellites into orbit to provide communications, Internet and other services to customers. In April, China’s National Development and Reform Commission added satellite Internet to the list of new infrastructure deemed vital to the nation.
“Under the background of incorporating satellite Internet construction into the ‘new infrastructure’, Galactic Energy will continue to work hard to cultivate the low-orbit satellite Internet launch market and help the construction of space network infrastructure,” CEO Liu Baiqi said. “Hopefully, in the foreseeable future, Galactic Energy’s innovative work can contribute its own wisdom and strength to the country’s space exploration.”
With the Ceres-1 launch, Galactic Energy became the second nominally private Chinese launch provider to orbit a satellite. iSpace succeeded in launching its Hyperbola-1 rocket in July.
Two other commercial companies — Landspace and OneSpace — failed in launch attempts in October 2018 and March 2019, respectively.
All four companies have used solid-fuel booster believed to be based on Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) technology. China’s policy of military-civil fusion allows for the rapid transfer of military technology to private companies that are backed by private investment.