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.
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.
Landspace has concluded a damaged third stage reaction control system that developed a fuel leak caused the failure of the private Chinese launch company’s ZhuQue-1 rocket during its maiden flight on Oct. 27, GB Timesreports.
The anomaly, which occurred 6 minutes 42 seconds after liftoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, made the rocket go out of control and sent the Weila-1 (Future-1) micro-satellite plunging into the Indian Ocean.
The conclusion is a preliminary one. The company is conducting additional analysis to confirm the finding.
It was the first orbital launch attempt by a private Chinese space company. A number of Chinese commercial startups are competing for business in the orbital and suborbital markets.
Landspace said the three-stage rocket reached an altitude of 337 km (209.4 miles), which means it entered space without achieving orbit. The booster reached a top speed of 6.3 km/second (14,093 mph), which is below orbital velocity.
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 Landspace is likely to launch the Zhuque-1 rocket next month in what would be the first privately developed orbital vehicle produced in that nation.
Aboard will be a small satellite named Future (Weilai-1/未来一号) for China Central Television (CCTV), which will carry out remote sensing and feature in a TV show.
Zhuque-1 is a 19-metre-tall, 1.35-metre-diameter three-stage rocket with a takeoff mass of 27 metric tonnes, producing thrust of 45 tonnes, making it capable of lifting 200 kg to 500 km Sun-synchronous orbit and 300 kg to a 300 km low Earth orbit.
According to Chinese state media, the rocket will be launched from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China. In September another company, OneSpace, will launch the first private suborbital rocket from Jiuquan, following its debut launch in May from a site in northwest China.
“The ZQ-1 rocket is a result of civil-military integration and also a product of China’s positive polices of developing a commercial space industry. In the future it can meet the demands of commercial satellite launches and undertake some tasks for the country,” Landspace CEO Zhang Changwu told CCTV+.
China conducted its first launch of 2018 on Tuesday when a Long March 2D booster lofted a pair of SuperView imaging satellites into polar orbit for Beijing Space View Technology. The rocket lifted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center.
“Success! We’re thrilled to announce the successful launch of SuperView-1 03&04 satellites at 11:26 this morning in Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center!” the company tweeted.
The launch doubled the number of high-resolution SuperView satellites the company has on orbit. It plans to sell imagery on the global market.
GBTimesreports China could launch more than 40 times in 2018, which would be a substantial increase over the 18 launches the nation conducted last year.
The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), announced at a conference on January 2 that its 2018 work model includes 35 launches, underlining the return to flight of the heavy-lift Long March 5 rocket, the Chang’e-4 lunar far side mission and launches of Beidou navigation satellites as the major activities.
In addition CASIC, a defence contractor, missile maker and sister company of CASC, will carry out a number of missions through its subsidiary EXPACE, including launching four Kuaizhou-1A rockets within one week and the maiden flight of the larger Kuaizhou-11.
Landspace Technology, a Beijing-based private aerospace company, is also expected to debut its LandSpace-1 solid propellant rocket this year.