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China plans to form commercial rocket company

China: According to a report published in China’s Xinhua news agency, the country is planning to form a company that will specialise in commercial rocket launches. In an interview given by Hu Shengyun, chief model designer with China Sanjiang Space Group said, the first launch is planned for next year.

He said preparations for the company had begun and some of China’s major Internet companies had expressed interest. The company will use a solid-fuel Kuaizhou rocket which can send a 1-ton payload to an altitude of 700 kilometers with prelaunch preparations taking just several hours, he said.

The cost of the project is speculated somewhere close to USD 10,000 per kilogram of payload, Hu said, giving the project a “promising market prospect.” According to Xinhua, China has launched over 50 rockets to carry about 60 satellites into space for some 20 foreign clients.

China has been offering launch services for foreign companies since 1990 when a Long March-3 rocket sent a US telecommunications satellite into orbit. The Long March series then became a major player in the international commercial launch market.

China launched the first Kuaizhou rocket in 2013 at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center to put an Earth observation satellite into orbit. The second, in 2014, carried a satellite to monitor natural disasters.

Source: Shanghai Daily