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DFH#14: SAR Wars continued, Hyperbola-1 launch failure, DBA's 1st hop 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 #14 covering 2 - 8 August 2021, we discuss the following:
  1. And the SAR war(s) continue: PIESat officially announces SAR constellation
  2. iSpace’s 3rd launch of the Hyperbola-1 fails due to unsuccessful payload fairing separation
  3. Deep Blue Aerospace performs first hop with Nebula-M rocket
  4. Successful launch of a Long March 6 on August 4, putting two “Beta” satellites into orbit
  5. CALT commercial spin-off China Rocket reveals additional details regarding its Jielong-3 rocket, maiden launch planned before the end of May 2022
  6. The second batch of Lunar samples from the Chang’e 5 mission now available for research applications
  7. Guodian Gaoke reveals further details on their Tianqi constellation at the Global Digital Economy Conference
  8.  Zhejiang Province’s provincial-level branch of the NDRC publishes “Notice on the 14th Five-Year Plan for the development of Zhejiang’s Aerospace Industry”
  9. Chengdu-based CETC Avionics tests domestically designed Ka-band phased array antenna for IFC applications
  10. Expace Completes Assembly of Kuaizhou-1A and Kuaizhou-11
  11. A Long March-3B launches ChinaSat-2E into orbit
  12. iStar Aerospace Completes Series A Round of Funding
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1) And the SAR war(s) continues: PIESat officially announces SAR constellation
On July 26th, Chinese remote sensing data analytics company Piesat signed a strategic cooperation agreement with Galaxy Space, a fellow Chinese commercial company specializing in satellite manufacturing and downstream services.
The agreement focused on the establishment of a commercial SAR constellation, with Galaxy Space unsurprisingly taking the lead on the manufacturing side (银河航天提供星座建设方案) while Piesat (航天宏图提供应用需求牵引) focused on the data applications. The collaboration agreement also covers the ground segment, TT&C, as well as “integrated remote sensing/communications” satellite technology (unclear what the latter refers to).
There seems to be a gold rush for commercial SAR satellites recently, with many commercial SAR constellation projects sprouting in light of rather lacking SAR capabilities in China, which may lead to what one could call the Chinese “SAR Wars” due to the possible associated overcapacity.
Our own artistic appreciation of "SAR War(s)"...
Our own artistic appreciation of "SAR War(s)"...
航天宏图信息技术股份有限公司
关于签署战略合作协议的公告
2) iSpace’s 3rd launch of the Hyperbola-1 fails due to unsuccessful payload fairing separation
Photo from the failed Hyperbola-1 attempt in February
Photo from the failed Hyperbola-1 attempt in February
Chinese commercial launch company iSpace (a.k.a Interstellar Glory) attempted to launch its solid-fueled small-lift rocket, the Hyperbola 1, on August 3rd. The Hyperbola-1 is notable for being the first Chinese commercial rocket to successfully reach orbit (July 2019). Unfortunately for iSpace, the launch ended up in failure, which according to a press release on the following day was due to an unsuccessful payload fairing separation. 
This is the second launch failure in a row for iSpace, after a failed launch in February 2021. It is still unclear how this additional failure will affect the iSpace. The company is one of the best-funded and most advanced commercial launch companies, with a medium-lift liquid-fueled reusable Hyperbola-2 to perform hops by the end of this year, and the development of a heavy lift Hyperbola-3 having kicked off in June.
双曲线一号火箭飞行试验未达到预期目的
3) Deep Blue Aerospace performs first hop with Nebula-M rocket
Nebula-M performed a first hop, the second only in Chinese commercial launch history
Nebula-M performed a first hop, the second only in Chinese commercial launch history
Over the past week we have seen Deep Blue Aerospace, a Chinese commercial launch company, perform the first “hop” of its Nebula-M VTVL (vertical takeoff, vertical landing) demonstrator. The highest point of the hop reached 10m, and the test had the objective of verifying 3 performance points: thrust adjustments during the hop, guidance and control algorithms, as well as the rocket’s landing struts.
If this is big news for China’s commercial space industry: it is Deep Blue Aerospace’s first hop, an important milestone in the development of VTVL technology, and it is the second Chinese company to ever do so after Linkspace and its RLV demonstrator series. Nevertheless, this remains a small step in the sense that so much more remains to be done by DBA before actually making an operational VTVL rocket.
国内首次液体火箭“蚱蜢跳”低空垂直回收飞行试验圆满成功 | 深蓝航天“星云-M”1号试验箭首战告捷
4) Successful launch of a Long March 6 on August 4, putting two “Beta” satellites into orbit
On Wednesday, we saw a Long March-6 put 2 “Beta” satellites into orbit. The satellites were manufactured by the Chinese Academy of Sciences Shanghai Engineering Center for Microsatellites (SECM) for KLEO Connect, a German company that plans to launch a LEO broadband constellation using Liechtenstein filings and Chinese financing. The project has been met with some controversy in Liechtenstein, with an interesting article from the local press appearing a couple of months ago. 
悄默声的,长六把贝塔发了
5) CALT commercial spin-off China Rocket reveals additional details regarding its Jielong-3 rocket, maiden launch planned before the end of May 2022
China Rocket (中国火箭) announced in a social media article that the Jielong-3 solid-fueled small lift rocket would perform its maiden launch by May 2022. The Jielong-3 is capable of putting 1.5t of payload into 500 km SSO. 
In a keynote presentation in October 2019, China Rocket had previously announced that it aimed at an annual launch rate of 5-8 Jielong-3 rockets. The Jielong-3 will have land and sea-based launch capabilities, and its final assembly line will be based in the seaside city of Haiyang (Shandong Province). China Rocket aims for a cost per kg of $10,000 US.
上新在即!捷龙三号火箭全面转入工程研制阶段!
6) The second batch of Lunar samples from the Chang’e 5 mission now available for research applications
Similar to the first batch of Chang’e-5 samples, the second batch will involve open applications for research projects requiring lunar samples. As discussed in the Dongfang Hour Episode 42, the first batch of lunar samples were handed out in incredibly precise increments, with a lot of caution being taken to ensure that the lunar samples were not compromised. Given the rough cost of RMB 2M/US$325K per gram (when considering estimated mission cost and amount of sample), we can certainly see why such caution was taken. 
You can check out the database of samples here.
公告:第二批月球科研样品信息上线发布
7) Guodian Gaoke reveals further details on their Tianqi constellation at the Global Digital Economy Conference
Guodian Gaoke was one of the co-hosts of a Digital Economy Conference held in Zhongguancun, Beijing, this week. At the conference, the company discussed its Tianqi constellation, which recently saw its first phase completed with the launch of the 14th Tianqi satellite.
Among other things, we learned that their ground terminals are now at a level where they consume only 0.1W of power to transmit data, and can be as small as 6cm in diameter. As discussed a couple of weeks ago on the Dongfang Hour, Tianqi can now offer refreshed data every 1.5hrs. Eventually, Guodian Gaoke hopes for real-time data updates and terminals with 0.05W power consumption.
8)  Zhejiang Province’s provincial-level branch of the NDRC publishes “Notice on the 14th FYP for the development of Zhejiang’s Aerospace Industry”
Slightly confusing update from the Zhejiang Provincial Development and Reform Commission. The province published its 14th Five-Year Plan in May, with the plan including development of a provincial aerospace industry, as well as a commercial launch site in Ningbo. On 28 July, we saw the provincial branch of the NDRC publish a “Notice on the 14th Five-Year Plan for the Development of Zhejiang’s Aerospace Industry”, which is largely an excerpt from the province’s FYP published in May. So, it’s not very clear what, if anything, has changed since the publication of the FYP in May, but nonetheless, good to see space/aerospace at the top of mind of the leadership of one of China’s wealthiest provinces.
9) Chengdu-based CETC Avionics tests domestically designed Ka-band phased array antenna for IFC applications
CETCA (电科航电) announced the successful completion of a 2-hour demonstration flight of the company’s home-grown IFC Ka-band phased array antenna. While the announcement dates back to the past week, the tests actually took place at the end of June 2021, the delay being due to the analysis of the results. The tests were performed in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, on-board an unknown domestic aircraft. Nanchang is a city known for its aeronautical activities, with a notable AVIC subsidiary (Hongdu). 
The demonstration flight is an additional step for CETCA towards commercialization. CETCA is developing a full hardware suite for IFEC (In-flight Entertainment and Connectivity), with antennas, servers and modems having been exposed at aerospace exhibitions on a regular basis (Zhuhai 2018, Paris 2019).
首款国产机载相控阵天线Ka宽带卫通系统飞行展示成功
10) Expace Completes Assembly of Kuaizhou-1A and Kuaizhou-11
Thursday 5 August saw Expace announce final assembly of a Kuaizhou-1A and Kuaizhou-11 rocket. The company is arguably the most advanced commercial launch startup in China, having successfully launched 9x Kuaizhou-1A rockets over the past several years. That being said, Expace has seen some hiccups more recently, with the Kuaizhou-1A failing in its 10th launch in September 2020, and the Kuaizhou-11 failing in its inaugural launch in July 2020. The return-to-flight of the KZ-11 is seen as one way to reduce the current launch bottleneck in China.
11) A Long March-3B launches ChinaSat-2E into orbit
Long March 3B nocturnal launch
Long March 3B nocturnal launch
Friday saw the launch of a Long March-3B with the ChinaSat-2E payload. The satellite, launched for state-owned satcom company ChinaSat, is a geostationary communications satellite that will be used for broadcast and data purposes, and may be an early replacement for the ChinaSat-2A satellite, launched in 2012. Interesting piece here about the role that the Xi’an Satellite Control Center (西安卫星测控中心) played in the monitoring of the launch. 
我国成功发射中星2E卫星
12) iStar Aerospace Completes Series A Round of Funding
Satellite component manufacturer iStar Aerospace announced a “more than 100M RMB” A-Round of funding on 7 August. Financiers include several usual suspects, including Shenzhen Venture Capital and Zhejiang University Innovation Fund (深创投联合领投,浙大联创投资, respectively). iStar is a Tianjin-based satellite component manufacturer focused on advanced materials and space/aerospace components, and is noteworthy for having significant support from the Tianjin government. We have seen increasing activity in the Northern Chinese city, with local company Tianbing Aerospace also raising several large rounds of funding recently. 
This is the 383th launch performed by a rocket of the Long March series.
爱思达航天完成逾亿元A轮融资
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 YouTubeTwitterInstagram or LinkedIn, or your local podcast source.
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