China’s first private rocket reaches 127,000 feet on maiden flight
OneSpace Technology Co., a Beijing-based aerospace company, has successfully launched a suborbital rocket. This was the first flight for China’s commercial launch sector.
Nicknamed “Chongqing Liangjiang Star,” the booster lifted off at 7:33 a.m. China Standard Time May 17 (7:33 p.m. EDT / 23:33 GMT May 16), 2018, from a launch site located somewhere in northwest China. The exact location was not disclosed by the company.
The mission was designated OS-X0 as it was the first test launch of OneSpace’s OS-X rocket. During the flight, the launch vehicle reached an altitude of 127,106 feet (38.74 kilometers) and had a top speed of more than 5.7 times the speed of sound. This was confirmed by Shu Chang, the company’s founder and CEO.
OS-X is a 29.5-foot (9-meter) solid-fueled single-stage rocket weighing about 7.2 metric tons. OneSpace disclosed that the rocket has a payload capacity of 220 pounds (100 kilograms) and can travel for around five minutes, or 170 miles (273 kilometers). The company also said that OS-X is equipped with wireless communication devices, low-cost energy sources and its control system can be customized to meet customer demands.
“Commercial rockets are relatively more efficient and cheaper,” Shu said. “We see great potential.”
The state-run Xinhua press agency said Thursday’s launch was conducted for OneSpace’s customer Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute under Aviation Industry Corporation of China, Ltd.
OneSpace was established in 2015, a year after the Chinese government allowed private capital to enter the space industry. It is the first private company in China with a license to develop carrier rockets.
Besides OS-X, which is designed mainly for scientific research purposes, OneSpace has also the OS-M rocket in its fleet, which it plans to use for small satellite launches. The first flight of an OS-M booster is currently scheduled for late 2018.
OneSpace is not the only Chinese private company developing launch vehicles. Last year, Link Space, another Beijing-based startup, presented the design of its New Line 1 reusable rocket. That company is targeting 2020 for the first orbital flight of its booster.
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