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DFH#13: iSpace asymmetrical rocket, 5G + LEO satellite integration test and more

The Dongfang Hour
The Dongfang Hour
Your Weekly China Space Industry Summary, with a touch of eccentricity and some attempts at humor. By Blaine Curcio and Jean Deville, and with editing by Orbital Gateway Consulting Intern Aurélie Gillet

What's up in Chinese Space this Week?
In this week’s Newsletter Issue #13 covering 26 July - 1 August 2021, we discuss the following:
  1. iSpace provides a technical justification to the non-symmetrical Hyperbola 3A rocket proposal
  2. First 5G network and LEO broadband satellite integration test performed in Jinan and Beijing
  3. Mystery around the YF-90 hydrolox Long March 9 engine
  4. Space Pioneer raises “hundreds of millions” of RMB in a Pre-B round of funding
  5. GNSS radio occultation constellation Yunyao Yuhang completes Pre-A round of funding
  6. Chinese launch startup iSpace completed verification tests of Hyperbola-2 rocket grid fin control surfaces
  7. Deep Blue Aerospace performs two 60s variable thrust static fire tests
  8. Tianhui-4 Satellite Launched on a Long March 2D
  9. Tianwen-1 to be put on standby during the entire month of September
  10.  US think-tank RAND Corporation releases a new report on Chinese space titled “Tailoring Deterrence for China in Space”
  11. China’s National Space Sciences Center (NSSC) released results of 3 leading Chinese space sciences experiments
  12. China’s Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) and China Satcom perform 5G space-ground integration test based on China Satcom’s Chinasat-16 HTS satellite
  13. China’s future state-owned broadband constellation operator China SatNet creates subsidiary China SatNet Innovation Research Institute (星网网络创新研究院) in Beijing
  14. Beijing’s Aerospace Flight Control Center (BACC) published on July 21st a map of Mars rover Zhurong’s path taken over the past months
  15. The first 9.5m diameter tank bulkhead of the Long March 9 lunar rocket was completed
  16. Tiantong-1 constellation reported to have played a major role in the emergency rescue operations in the Henan floods
  17. EO data analytics company Xinde Zhitu and insurance company China Life sign collaboration agreement over agriculture insurance
  18. Long March 2C payload fairing parachute experiment successful, CALT releases footage
1) iSpace provides a technical justification to the non-symmetrical Hyperbola 3A rocket proposal
Rockets of the Hyperbola-3 series
Rockets of the Hyperbola-3 series
This week, iSpace provided some explanation for the non-symmetrical structure of the Hyperbola-3A medium-lift rocket, which only has a single side booster, revealed in early June (and analysed in DFH newsletter #6).
Firstly, iSpace mentions that it is not the first such design: other examples include American Space Shuttle or the Soviet Union’s Buran spaceplane. Second, iSpace plans to address the technical challenges of an asymmetrical design through applying variable thrust to the many engines of the first stage, or through the gimballing of the aforementioned engines. If iSpace can meet such challenges, the Hyperbola-3 family may have a more versatile payload capacity to offer to customers, with minimal development time and costs due to the modular approach.
为什么要打造一款“专治强迫症”的非轴对称运载火箭?
2) First 5G network and LEO broadband satellite integration test performed in Jinan and Beijing
China announced its first 5G network/LEO broadband satellite integration test this week, performed in Jinan and Beijing. The test apparently created a link between private networks in the two cities, and involved a simulation of a dangerous goods leak in a factory in Jinan, with staff in Beijing handling the accident simulation remotely via LEO satellite.
While it does not explicitly mention it, the test appears to have been done using Galaxy Space’s Galaxy-1 (Yinhe-1) satellite. Galaxy Space seems to be positioning itself as a space technology company with activities in different areas related to satellite internet, from manufacturing of broadband satellites and payloads, to testing of applications. Lastly, this simulation illustrates the advantages of 5G over 4G, the former having not only higher bandwidth but also lower latency.
中国首次低轨宽带卫星与5G专网融合试验完成
3) Mystery around the YF-90 Long March 9 hydrolox engine
An article published by China’s official space media China Aerospace News announced on July 28th that CASC’s 6th Academy (a.k.a AALPT) had completed the first engineering prototype of the YF-90 engine, a closed cycle fuel-rich hydrolox engine which produces 220t of thrust. AALPT plans to perform the first “semi-system” tests this year, followed by a full system test.
Some mystery remains as to if the YF-90 will actually be used on the Long March 9, as a presentation shown by Long March 9 chief designer Long Lehao in June 2021 suggests that 120t-thrust hydrolox engines will be used instead.
重型运载火箭220吨级发动机完成首台工程样机生产
4) Space Pioneer raises “hundreds of millions” of RMB in a Pre-B round of funding
Space Pioneer (aka Tianbing Aerospace) announced a “hundreds of millions of RMB” Pre-B round of funding earlier this week. The round of funding marks the 6th (!!) round of funding completed by Tianbing in the past 2 years, with the company claiming to have raised more than RMB 1B during those 6 rounds. Check out this week’s DFH episode for more details! 👇
iSpace's Asymmetrical Rocket, Mystery around the Long March 9 Engine, Space Pioneer Round of Funding
5) GNSS radio occultation constellation Yunyao Yuhang completes Pre-A round of funding
Tianjin-based startup Yunyao Yuhang (云遥宇航) completed a Pre-A round of funding amounting to “tens of millions of RMB”, with the sole investor of the Pre-A round being Chinese space-focused VC firm Essential Capital (元航资本) known to have invested in other leading Chinese startups such as Galactic Energy and Satellite Herd. The company plans to deploy a 80-satellite weather data constellation, using notably the GNSS radio occultation technique
So far Yunyao Yuhang has successfully sent several payloads into orbit, often as secondary payloads of a larger satellite. The most recent example was CGSTL’s Jilin-1 constellation Kuanfu-01B EO satellite, launched on July 3rd 2021. Yunyao Yuhang recently released sea surface wind data gathered by the satellite (see DFH Newsletter #12).
Pre-A轮成功融资
6) Chinese launch startup iSpace completed verification tests of Hyperbola-2 rocket grid fin control surfaces
Hyperbola-2 rocket grid fin control surfaces
Hyperbola-2 rocket grid fin control surfaces
Chinese launch startup iSpace (星际荣耀) completed verification tests of its upcoming Hyperbola-2 rocket grid fin control surfaces, getting one step closer to performing hops. These grid fins are one step up from the ones already tested by iSpace on its expendable, solid-fueled, small lift Hyperbola-1 rocket.
One major difference will be that the grid fins on the Hyperbola-2 will only be deployed during the descent/recovery phase, and are folded and locked during ascent.
7) Deep Blue Aerospace performs two 60s variable thrust static fire tests
Thrust static fire test of DBA's Nebula-M rocket
Thrust static fire test of DBA's Nebula-M rocket
After performing a 10s static fire test in the first half of July, Deep Blue Aerospace completed this week two much longer (60-second) variable thrust static fire tests of its Nebula-M rocket demonstrator. Nebula-M is a single-stage prototype meant to verify vertical take-off vertical landing (VTVL) technology which will be used on the company’s future Nebula-2 reusable rocket.
Note: at the time of publication, Deep Blue Aerospace had just performed the first hop of the Nebula-M. More detail on this in next week’s edition.
深蓝航天“回收复用”试验进展|“星云-M”液体回收1号试验箭连续完成两次长程变推力静态点火
8) Tianhui-4 satellite Launched on a LM-2D
China launched the Tianhui-4 satellite on 29 July from Jiuquan Launch Center. Tianhui is an EO constellation which saw its first satellite launched in 2010. Subsequent launches in 2012 and 2015 expanded the constellation to 3 satellites, and this week’s launch was the 4th.
刚刚,天绘一号04星发射成功!这个月6发6中!
9) Tianwen-1 to be put on standby during the entire month of September
Due to the alignment of the Earth, the Sun and Mars in September, China will put the Tianwen-1 mission on stand-by for an entire month. The chief engineer of the Tianwen-1 mission Sun Zezhou explained notably that the Sun’s intermediate position and the associated solar activity would strongly interfere with radio communications, making contacts between Mars and the Earth very difficult.
10)  US think-tank RAND Corporation releases a new report on Chinese space titled “Tailoring Deterrence for China in Space”
The US’ increased reliance on space technologies and China’s pursuit of space superiority has made a considerable part of the US’ critical infrastructure vulnerable to any attacks aiming at satellite infrastructure. RAND Corporation’s report examines the application of classical deterrence theory to the space domain and discusses how to build a specific deterrence strategy for China.
Tailoring Deterrence for China in Space | RAND
11) China’s National Space Sciences Center (NSSC) released results of 3 leading Chinese space sciences experiments
The National Space Sciences Center (NSSC), China’s leading space sciences institution and one of the main space entities of the CAS, released results of 3 major Chinese space sciences experiments on July 20th 2021. These include the Taiji-1 gravitational wave detector satellite, the Shijian-10 microgravity experiment recoverable satellite, and the HXMT X-ray space telescope, launched respectively in 2019, 2016, and 2017.
At a press conference in mid-July 2021, the director of the NSSC and Chinese academician Wang Chi announced that further space sciences projects were in development, and would be launched in the next 2-3 years.
中科院发布3颗卫星的科学成果,涉及空间引力波探测|卫星|中科院|引力波_新浪科技_新浪网
12) China’s Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) and China Satcom perform 5G space-ground integration test based on China Satcom’s Chinasat-16 HTS satellite
This collaboration between CAICT and China Satcom comes 4 months after a similar test conducted between CAICT and Galaxy Space with the latter’s Galaxy-1 “5G” satellite. Both tests appear to be in line with the government’s emphasis on satellite internet, and they are an indication that moving forward, we can expect more tests in even more specific areas of emphasis (IFC, maritime satcom, and 5G via satellite, among others).
中国信通院和中国卫通联合开展基于5G的高轨高通量卫星通信技术试验_体制
13) China’s future state-owned broadband constellation operator China SatNet creates subsidiary China SatNet Innovation Research Institute (星网网络创新研究院) in Beijing
China’s future state-owned broadband constellation operator China SatNet recently announced the establishment of a wholly-owned subsidiary, China Satellite Networks Innovation Research Institute, in Beijing. The new subsidiary will be tasked with the development of satellite Internet system technology and standardization services. Hao Xukun, previously deputy director of the 50th Institute of China Electronics Technology Group Corporation, will serve as legal representative, chairman and manager.
14) Beijing’s Aerospace Flight Control Center (BACC) published on July 21st a map of Mars rover Zhurong’s path taken over the past months
For the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Tianwen-1 Mars mission, BACC published a map of the path taken by the Zhurong rover since it landed on Mars on May 14 2021. As of July 23, 2021, Zhurong has travelled over 585 meters south of the initial landing point.
天问一号发射一周年,“祝融号”行驶路线图及最新火星影像发布_澎湃防务_澎湃新闻-The Paper
15) The first 9.5m diameter tank bulkhead of the Long March 9 lunar rocket was completed
China completed the first prototype of the 9.5m tank bulkhead of the Long March 9 over the past week. The exceptionally large scale of the Long March 9 tanks meant that the engineering teams developed tailored milling and (friction stir) welding tools to complete the bulkhead assembly.
国内首件!公司生产的重型运载火箭大大大大圆环正式亮相!
16) Tiantong-1 constellation reported to have played a major role in the emergency rescue operations in the Henan floods
China Telecom has helped cope with the weather emergency in Henan earlier this month by providing 100 satellite phones linked to the Tiantong-1 constellation. As such phones are wireless and use GEO satellites as relays, communication is not affected by the weather.
It is interesting to note that instead of relying on a foreign SatCom company for emergency communication (China used services by UK-based Inmarsat following the Wenchuan earthquake in Sichuan in 2008), this time communication was independently ensured by Chinese companies.
17) EO data analytics company Xinde Zhitu and insurance company China Life sign collaboration agreement over agriculture insurance
On July 30th, EO data analytics company Xinde Zhitu signed a collaboration agreement with Chinese insurance company China Life. The collaboration agreement will notably enable faster “loss determination mechanisms” through the use of satellite remote sensing data, and will enable the creation of new agriculture insurance products.
Xinde Zhitu also signed an agreement with EO satellite operator CGSTL, operating the Jilin-1 constellation, and Global Nebula Remote Sensing Technology (浙江环球星云遥感科技有限公司) covering the application of remote sensing data to finance and insurance use cases.
中国人寿财险与航天信德签署深化合作协议
18) Long March 2C payload fairing parachute experiment successful, releases footage
The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) recently released a video of the successful deployment of a payload fairing parachute onboard a Long March 2C rocket (launch of the Yaogan-30 Group 10 mission on July 19). The main objective of the parachute was to control and better predict the landing area of the fairing. The potential landing zone has been reduced by 80% according to the press release.
The rocket fairing was modified to host and deploy the parachute and was quite noticeable due to the blue tarp on the exterior.
Long March 2C Fairing with the Parachute
Long March 2C Fairing with the Parachute
This has been another episode of the Dongfang Hour China Aero/Space News Roundup. If you’ve made it this far, we thank you for your kind attention, and look forward to seeing you next time! Until then, don’t forget to follow us on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, or your local podcast source.
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