The Chinese President Xi Jinping has made space exploration a priority for China since he came into power in 2012. The country is another step closer to achieving their goal of becoming a “space flight superpower” after the first privately developed rocket was launched successfully from northwestern China on Thursday. The “Chongqing Liangjiang Star” rocket was developed by OneSpace Technology. It is a Beijing based private firm. This launch is the first time a non-state Chinese rocket has left Chinese soil.
The rocket gets powered by solid fuel and can carry nearly 100 kg load in orbit. It can achieve the height of 800 km from the earth. The rocket is designed to be customizable as per the user’s demands. OneSpace has reduced the fuel cost by 30% via reducing the overall weight of the rocket. The weight reduction comes in the form of relying on wireless communication in the system instead of the wired internet. Shu Chang, the founder of OneSpace, said that the company has 10 missions for carrier rockets in 2019. He said, “I hope we can become one of the biggest small-satellite launchers in the world.”
The company has collaborated with the state-run Chongqing Lianjiang Aviation Industry Investment Group to build a research and manufacturing base in the southwestern city of Chongqing. The location of the base is a strategic decision which is supposed to strengthen trade links between China and Eurasia. Shu said, “We will develop bigger rockets in the future and participate in the global competition.” This news came soon after Australia’s announcement that it will establish its space agency.
Australia’s Minister for Education and Training Simon Birmingham talked at the opening ceremony of the 2017 International Astronautical Congress (IAC) and said that the new agency would be benefiting all Australians. He said, “I am truly excited by the potential this announcement will bring to Australia and South Australia, with opportunities to inspire a new generation to literally see the world as their universe and embrace the potential benefits of studying science and related disciplines.” The space industry is worth nearly $318 billion on annual basis all over the world and $3.1 billion in Australia. The Australian government has predicted that the creation of the agency will help to boost the domestic value of the industry to $14 billion by 2019.
The Department of Industry, Innovation, and Science talked about the goals of the industry saying that the agency will “support the development of Australia’s space industry so that it can compete effectively in the global space sector” and “coordinate domestic activities in Australia’s space sector.” The agency is expected to commence on 1st July 2018. So far very little information is known about the company’s long-term goals, and not many details have been released about it. We will have to wait to see how this develops.