China’s first private commercial rocket successfully launched

Chinese space company OneSpace Technology launched the country’s first private commercial rocket Thursday evening. This accomplishment marks the success of the first commercial sub-orbital rocket from a private enterprise and lays a solid foundation for future research and development.

Chongqing Liangjiang Star, a 9-meter-tall OS-X series rocket designed and built by OneSpace, blasted off from a base in northwestern China. OneSpace became the country’s first private company to launch its own rocket.

Chongqing Liangjiang Star rocket
Chongqing Liangjiang Star rocket

This flight test achieved extended control in space and acquired a large amount of data about space, deeming the trial a great success.

The flight test also carried out research on innovative technologies including drag-mitigating pole, low-cost energy, built-in wireless communication and set an example for simplifying the rocket system design and reducing the R&D costs.

Targeting the small satellite market

According to OneSpace President Ma Chao, Chongqing Liangjiang Star weighed 7,200 kilograms and flew at an altitude of 38.742 kilometers, reaching a supersonic speed exceeding the speed of sound by 5.7 times.

The flight took about five minutes over a distance of 273 kilometers. It was powered by a self-developed solid rocket engine whose thrust can reach 350 kN and provide a speed of 0 to 20 mach.

Shu Chang, OneSpace’s founder and CEO, claimed that OneSpace is not targeting the heavy-lift carrier rocket market dominated by the national research team and overseas companies. Instead, OneSpace will focus on the small satellite market.

OneSpace jointly established a flying alliance with over ten prestigious institutions, including Beihang University, China Southern Airlines, Northwestern Polytechnical University and Harbin Institute of Technology.

The alliance is committed to lowering thresholds for technical verification and accelerate the effective transformation of airspace technology through low-cost, high-frequency and combined flight tests.

According to Shu Chang, orders for the OS-X series rockets have been scheduled for 2019 and the OS-M series rockets scheduled for 2020. By 2020, OneSpace will achieve an annual output of more than 20 OS- X-Series rockets and more than 30 OS-M rockets.

This article originally appeared in ifeng tech and was translated by Pandaily.