A second company to launch satellites

Updated: 2016-04-22 02:57

By Zhao Lei in Beijing and Zhou Lihua in Wuhan (China Daily)

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A second company to launch satellites

A Long March-2D carrier rocket carrying the "Jilin-1" satellites blasts off from the launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China's Gansu province, Oct 7, 2015. [Photo/Xinhua]

China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, the country's largest missile maker, has established the country's second commercial launch company in an attempt to seize a share of the satellite launch market.

Expace Technology Co was founded and registered with the commerce department of Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, in mid-February, said Hu Xiaotao, general manager of the company.

Expace Technology has registered capital of 300 million yuan ($46.3 million) and will provide a satellite launch service to clients, Hu said.

Its parent company, China Sanjiang Space Group, a branch of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, is one of the three rocket developers in China. The two others are the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in Beijing and the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology.

Previously, only China Great Wall Industry Corp in Beijing, part of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, carried out commercial launches in the country.

Expace plans to launch a commercial version of the Kuaizhou 1 rocket for clients within the year. The next-generation Kuaizhou 11 rocket, which will have more capacity, is scheduled to make its first launch next year.

China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp began to develop Kuaizhou solid-fuel rockets in 2009, intending to form a low-cost, quick-response rocket family for the commercial space market.

The first flight of a Kuai-zhou rocket took place in September 2013, when the company launched the Kuaizhou 1 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansu province to put an Earth-observation satellite into orbit. In November 2014, the Kuaizhou 2 sent another satellite into space from the same center.

"We are now in talks with more than 10 domestic and foreign companies that have expressed intentions to use this Kuaizhou 1 mission to lift their satellites," Hu told China Daily on Thursday. He declined to elaborate on the negotiations, citing business confidentiality.

"Moreover, some internet giants in China are keeping in touch with us to explore the possibility of cooperation in building a space-based internet," he said.

The government is very supportive of the founding of his company, since it will boost commercialization of the space launch sector, Hu added.

An insider from China Great Wall Industry Corp who requested anonymity said there is high demand for commercial launch for small and mid-sized satellites in the domestic and international markets, which will bring opportunities for Expace.

Contact the writers at zhaolei@chinadaily.com.cn