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DFH#15: China hypersonic spacecraft, lunar lander, New Shepard 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 #15 covering 9 - 15 August 2021, we discuss the following in what was a beast of a week (with two DFHour episodes!) :
  1. Space Transportation Completes RMB300M Series A round of funding, gives more insights on hypersonic vehicle roadmap
  2. Further hints that China is working on a lunar lander
  3. China Eastern Begins Live TV In-Flight w/ Panasonic
  4. A Chinese New Shepard? CAS Space eyes space tourism
  5. Chinese startup Interspace Explore raises “tens of millions” of RMB, plans commercial cargo spacecraft in 2022
  6. Guangzhou adds Satellite Internet to 14th Five-Year Plan
  7.  Interview with Commsat VP of Marketing and Comms Fan Yuelong
  8. Article about Chinese Aero/Space Industry Funding
  9. Interview with CEO of F-Squares Technology about EO’s Role in Henan Flood Response
  10. CAS Space completes a series of verification tests and simulations of its Zhongke rocket flight control systems
  11. Space-Earth dialogue (天地对话)
  12. Overview of China’s upcoming “Zhenghe” asteroid sample return mission
  13. Interview with the co-founder and vice president of Minospace, Kong Lingbo (孔令波)
  14. Jiutian Xingge raises “tens of millions of RMB”
  15. FSquares Technology signs agreement with Neudata
  16. China-ASEAN Remote Sensing Laboratory approved in Guangxi
1) Space Transportation Completes RMB300M Series A round of funding
Space Transportation roadmap
Space Transportation roadmap
Chinese hypersonic spacecraft and rocket company Space Transportation announced an 300M RMB Series A funding round on August 9th. This funding round was led by Matrix Partners China and Shanghai Guosheng Investment Fund. In a related press release, lead investor Matrix Partners noted that:
“The product of Space Transportation is high-speed aircraft. Imagine flying from the Eastern to the Western Hemisphere in less than 2 hours. This may be the next generation of aircraft"
Space Transportation plans to conduct technology verification testing until 2022, achieve a suborbital space tourism prototype flight in 2023, and conduct the first manned test flight of a suborbital space tourism vehicle in 2025. They plan for their first “global hypersonic vehicle flight” in 2028, and then the first “full-scale global hypersonic vehicle flight” in 2030.
More details about the types of products proposed by Space Transportation can be found in this week’s first episode (out of the two episodes this week!!)
Space Transportatation illustration of point-to-point transportation
Space Transportatation illustration of point-to-point transportation
2) Further hints that China is working on a lunar lander
A Chinese local space media Dianfeng Gaodi pointed out the visit of some high-level officials from CAST to the School of Aeronautics and Astronautics of Xiamen University. The post nominatively refers to the visitors as high-profile Chinese lunar lander project leadership – including Yang Lei, Li Yan and Fan Songtao.
The lander is one of the missing pieces of China’s crewed lunar projects. Although it hasn’t been officially announced yet, it is publicly known information that China is working on the lander: on April 23 2018, Zhou Jianping announced a competition requesting proposals for a lunar lander architecture (full detail on lander characteristics available on CMSEO’s website). Moreover, at the China Space Conference in September 2020, details a lunar lander proposal were revealed. A lunar surface vehicle and lunar space suits were even mentioned.
While the lunar lander is not yet official, it’s undoubtedly there and under development, meaning that it could be potentially revealed in the near future (maybe China Space Day 2022? 100% speculation).
载人登月工程3名相关人员公开,除飞船外,载人登月器也已在路上_嫦娥
3) China Eastern Begins Live TV In-Flight w/ Panasonic
China Eastern Airlines will begin rolling out live TV on its widebody fleet of A330s, A350s, 777s, and 787s, including content from CCTV and CGTN, through IFC service provider Panasonic Avionics. The addition of live broadcast on flights is made possible partly by the bringing into service of Apstar-6D, a Ku-band HTS with considerably more capacity than any other Chinese-owned satellite in orbit today (~50 Gbps).
In related news, we also saw Panasonic Avionics launch what the company calls the “world’s first full cabin 4K in-flight entertainment system”, with Cathay Pacific on the airline’s A321neo fleet.
Moving forward, we should probably expect more Chinese airlines to announce plans for IFC and IFE. 
China Eastern launches local live TV on board with Panasonic Avionics – PaxEx.Aero
4) A Chinese New Shepard? CAS Space eyes space tourism
CAS Space, the commercial launch company backed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences and with support from the Guangzhou Government, announced this week an agreement with Zhuhai Orbita to develop a rocket that looks conceptually very similar to the New Shepard, and that will be used for space tourism. This is significant news, considering that there was a lack of tangible space tourism projects in China (although some companies like Space Transportation, Landspace or iSpace do have related projects). 
It is not entirely clear what each company will bring to the table, but yet again, we have an example of the development of a Guangdong Province space cluster, with Zhuhai being ~1-1.5hrs south of Guangzhou, the HQ of CASSpace. Last point and fun fact, the landing site for the rocket will be constructed within an aerospace theme park, space experience hall, and aerospace science education base.
For details on CAS Space’s spacecraft and comparison with the New Shepard, look forward to our 2d episode coming up this Wednesday!
守护绿水青山,逐梦太空旅游 —— 中科宇航与欧比特签署战略合作框架协议
5) Chinese startup Interspace Explore raises “tens of millions” of RMB, plans commercial cargo spacecraft in 2022
On August 4, Beijing-based startup Interspace Explore (北京星际开发) raised “tens of millions” of RMB in an angel round of funding, with the sole investor being Innoangel Fund (英诺天使基金). The investment will be used to expand the team and fund research & development, according to company founder Fu Shiming.
Founded in 2018, Interspace Explore specialises in building reusable cargo spacecraft. Since January 2021, it is designing a prototype reusable cargo spacecraft, namely the Zengzhang-1, with a carrying mass to the space station of 350kg, and a return carrying mass of not less than 100kg. The Zengzhang-1 is planned for a test flight in 2022, and the company notes that they already have prospective customers lined up in the pharmaceuticals and space agriculture sectors.
This type of cargo will prove essential to for downward missions from the CSS. Another noteworthy point is the company’s agreement with Galactic Energy, including launch as well as plans for “product development, personnel exchanges, technical exchanges, and company operations” (开展产品配套、人员交流、技术交流和公司运营管理等全方位的交流合作).
6) Guangzhou adds Satellite Internet to 14th Five-Year Plan
The city of Guangzhou added satellite internet to its 14th Five-Year Plan, released this week. This is the latest city in Guangdong to make such a decision, following in the footsteps of neighboring Shenzhen.
The article highlights three major space projects already underway in Guangzhou, all of which have been covered on previous DFHour episodes, namely CAS Space’s rocket industrial base, Geely’s space HQ in Nansha, and TCL’s Moxing Semiconductors, which specializes in space-related electronic components and semiconductors.
广州布局卫星互联网产业
7)  Interview with Commsat VP of Marketing and Comms Fan Yuelong
Like any good article, this does not have a publication date (occasional attempts at humor!), but this week we came across what seems like a newish interview with VP of Marketing and Comms Fan Yuelong, published in English-language media source Telum. Interestingly, during the interview, Fan describes Commsat’s value proposition relative to state-owned incumbents, namely “At COMMSAT, the purpose is to make space tech accessible and enjoyable to all, with lower costs but a high-touch experience. This is a distinct positioning as it complements the state-owned space juggernauts who don’t address personalised needs at scale”.
Telum Talks To... Fan Yuelong, VP Marketing and Communications, COMMSAT - Telum Media
8) Article about Chinese Aero/Space Industry Funding
This week saw an article published by the official WeChat account of the China Commercial Aerospace Forum (CCAF, 中国商业航天高峰论坛) about funding into Chinese aero/space companies over the past several years, including a handy table of funding rounds in 2021. While the fundraising rounds are not exhaustive, and there are some companies that raise some eyebrows (for example, 迈信林 appears to be purely an aviation/aerospace company), the article provides a good overview of fundraising in China, and does provide some good data points.
近十年我国商业航天赛道融资额达190亿元,火箭/卫星研发企业频获融资
9) Interview with CEO of F-Squares Technology about EO’s Role in Henan Flood Response
Xi Xiaofei, CEO of Beijing F-Squares Technology (四象爱数科技), conducted an interview where she outlined the ways that EO data helped in the response to the Henan flooding several weeks ago. Xi discussed the two major impacts of such a huge amount of rain in a short period: urban flooding, and crop damage in rural areas. In urban areas, EO data can be used to measure depth and area of flooding, while in rural areas, it can be used to monitor crop damage, as well as track second-order effects such as mudslides, landslides, and breaking of dams. Xi also discussed the respective benefits/drawbacks of UAVs vs. satellites for EO. For more info, check out the Dongfang Hour Episode 43, where we discuss the role of EO and satcom in flood relief efforts. 
河南暴雨救灾中,遥感技术发挥了哪些作用? 听听四象科技CEO郗晓菲怎么说
10) CAS Space completes a series of verification tests and simulations of its Zhongke rocket flight control systems
Hardware-in-the-loop tests showing the actuators and rocket nozzle
Hardware-in-the-loop tests showing the actuators and rocket nozzle
CAS Space, a launch spin-off of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and headquartered in Beijing but with major operations in Guangzhou, announced the completion of a series of verification tests of its flight control systems. The tests reportedly took place in the cities of Beijing, Langfang and Xi’an. The 3-month long tests included hardware-in-the-loop simulations where the actual rocket servomechanisms interacted with simulation software.
11) Space-Earth dialogue (天地对话)
Interesting piece describing dialogues between the three taikonauts aboard the Chinese space station, and people back here on earth. The astronauts are apparently very busy in space, but still find time to watch the Olympic games, among other things. In fact, Chinese Olympic athletes actually sent videos back to the taikonauts in what was possibly the first exchange between taikonauts and olympians.
英雄惜英雄!这场“天地对话”,太有爱了
12) Overview of China’s upcoming “Zhenghe” asteroid sample return mission
Great English-language overview of the Zhenghe mission, which plans to send a probe to the Kamoʻoalewa asteroid with launch in 2024 and arrival in 2025, before bringing back samples from the asteroid.
Conceptually the mission is similar to the OSIRIS-REX program from NASA, as well as Japan’s Hayabusa-1 and Hayabusa-2.
China Plans Near-Earth Asteroid Smash-and-Grab - IEEE Spectrum
13) Interview with the co-founder and vice president of Minospace, Kong Lingbo (孔令波)
In the interview, Kong discusses the environment when starting MinoSpace, his motivations for starting the company, and MinoSpace’s competitive advantage. He is bullish on the market for 50-500kg satellites, and notes that MinoSpace is aiming to manufacture satellites with mass ranging from 10kg to 1 ton. Interestingly, Kong mentions ITAR and the Wolf Amendment as factors that helped China’s space sector become more self-reliant, something we have heard before.
微纳星空孔令波做客空天界《对话空天创造者》
14) Jiutian Xingge raises “tens of millions of RMB”
Jiutian Xingge raised “tens of millions of RMB” from Essential Capital this week. The company is a rocket subsystems manufacturer, with an emphasis on cryogenic technology used for liquid rockets. Founded in 2019, this is the company’s first round of funding, with the money coming from regular space industry investor Essential Capital. The company’s Chinese name, and its apparent location in Tangshan, suggest there may be some connection with Commsat (which also has a factory in Tangshan), but this is not clear, and they do not appear to share any of the same shareholders or directors.
【EC Portfolio News】北京九天行歌完成数千万元人民币的天使轮融资,元航资本领投,溪山天使跟投
15) FSquares Technology signs agreement with Neudata
Neudata, a British alternative data platform with seemingly deepish ties to Morgan Stanley, signed a collaboration agreement with Beijing FSquares Technology, a Chinese EO data analytics company. The agreement involves FSquares having several of its data products available on Neudata’s platform. Neudata appears to have some really blue-chip clients, with PwC having recently announced the selection of Neudata as its alternative data partner.
四象科技与Neudata正式签署合作协议
16) China-ASEAN Remote Sensing Laboratory approved in Guangxi
China announced approval for the construction of a Remote Sensing Application Key Laboratory in Guangxi Province with emphasis on collaboration with ASEAN countries. Guangxi, in Southwest China, shares a border with Vietnam, and has deep ties to ASEAN nations. The laboratory will focus on developing remote sensing applications for use in maritime, agriculture, natural resources, and other verticals.
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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