Chinese rocket startup Galactic Energy sends five satellites into space | CNN Business
Galactic Energy, a rocket startup in China, launched five satellites into orbit on Monday, boosting the private company’s ambition to become a Chinese rival to SpaceX.
Galactic Energy’s Ceres-1 rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China on Monday, sending five commercial satellites into their intended orbits, the Beijing-based company said in a communicated the same day.
The five satellites will be used for telecommunications, weather forecasting and scientific research for the country’s government agencies, the company added.
The mission marks the fifth launch of the Ceres-1 rocket, a small solid-fuel orbital rocket designed by the company, Galactic Energy said. To date, it has successfully put 19 commercial satellites into space, setting a record for a private Chinese company.
“We are trumpeting to start a high-density orbital launch in 2023,” he said, adding that he plans to complete 8 to 10 missions by this year.
Galactic Energy conducted the first launch of Ceres-1 on November 7, 2020, making it the second Chinese private company to launch a satellite into low Earth orbit. A Beijing-based startup, i-Space, was the first to do so in 2019.
Currently, many Chinese commercial satellite launch providers are using small solid propellant rockets such as Ceres. But some companies are developing or testing reusable liquid-propellant rocket engines, which allow precise control of thrust after ignition.
Last year, Galactic Energy successfully tested liquid propellant Welkin engine for its next-generation rockets. Its founder Liu Baiqi said they want to build the Chinese version of the Merlin engine, which was developed by SpaceX.
Founded in 2018, Galactic Energy has received several rounds of funding from private equity investors and venture capitalists, worth more than $250 million in total. Major investors include the investment arm of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, a state-owned defense and aerospace conglomerate.
China’s commercial space industry has expanded rapidly since 2015, when the government began encouraging private companies to enter the space sector. Before that, launching rockets and satellites had been the monopoly of state-owned aerospace companies.
Over the past few years, more than 170 private companies have entered the space industry, according to a 2020 research report by Future Space Research, a Beijing-based research institute.
The Chinese startup’s successful launch came on the same day Virgin Orbit failed in its first rocket launch from the UK.