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Chinese Private Space Companies Racing to Reach Orbit in 2019

As in most other aspects of its existence, China has made huge steps forward in space exploration in recent years. In a very short time, the country grew from having a government-clogged space program to being one of the main driving forces in the expansion of the human race in the solar system.
OneSpace rocket launch seen from above 1 photo
Last year, China had more rocket launches than the U.S. (37 China vs. 34 U.S.) and Russia (18 launches), marking the first time in history this has happened. And 2019 is likely to be even more spectacular, thanks to the rise of private space companies in the country.

China was targeting a much higher number of rocket launches in 2018, with the help of the said companies, but various technical issues prevented them from reaching orbit. Not the same is expected to happen this year.

According to Space News, at least one of China’s private space companies, OneSpace, will be going for orbital launches this year, possibly accompanied by another one called i-Space.

OneSpace is already claiming the title of first Chinese entity to launch a privately-developed rocket into orbit. This allegedly happened last May, when one of its rockets crossed the space boundary.

OneSpace considers itself the Chinese version of SpaceX. Unlike Elon Musk’s company, it will however limit its business, at least for the coming years, to helping companies place small satellites at the desired altitudes.

OneSpace is just one of the at least ten private companies competing in the nascent Chinese private space industry. Its major competitor seems to be i-Space, which claimed to have sent in April 2018 a single-stage solid-propellant rocket at over 100 km (62 miles), the altitude where space is largely considered to begin.

There are in all about ten private space companies in China. Together, they drew investments totaling around $500 million last year, about 3 percent of the worldwide total.

That may seem tiny, but think of it this way: in 2015, the total investment in Chinese private space companies was zero, according to Chad Anderson, CEO of specialized investor group Space Angels.


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