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DFH#8: Super Heavy-Lift LM-9, China SatNet Updates, 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 #8 covering 21 - 27 June 2021, we discuss the following:
  1. Massive design changes for China’s super heavy rocket the Long March 9
  2. Cooperation agreement between China SatNet and the City of Chongqing
  3. Zhong’an Guotong to establish a 50 billion RMB satellite industry fund in Shenzhen
  4. Qi Fazhen, one of the top academicians and space engineers of China, gives speech at Hong-Kong Polytechnic University
  5. Beijing Tianlian TT&C (北京天链测控技术有限公司) announce the completion of a 100+ million RMB B-round of funding
  6. CGSTL and Huawei announce deepening collaboration
  7. Agreement between Four Squares Technology (四象科技) and the Agriculture Bureau of the City of Yuyao
  8. CETC absorbs fellow SOE Potevio Group, forming the 3rd largest information technology company
  9. Commsat waxes poetic about a 6G White Paper
  10. Cyzone (创业邦) reveals list of 20 most important commercial space companies
  11. NDRC visits ADASpace in Chengdu
1) Massive design changes for China’s super heavy rocket the Long March 9 announced by Long Lehao
Long Lehao, chief engineer at CASC's Academy of Launch Technology
Long Lehao, chief engineer at CASC's Academy of Launch Technology
Long Lehao, the head engineer of Long March rockets at the Chinese Academy of Launch Technology, (who’s 83 years old btw!), gave a much-awaited presentation at the University of Hong-Kong on June 24, in which he announced massive design changes for the LM-9 (among other things).
The Long March 9 is China’s hypothetical super heavy rocket, and has been in discussion in the country from as early as 2010. Until now, the 2011 edition (11 版) of the LM-9 was known to have three versions: 1) the LM-9: heaviest version, 3-stage rocket and 4 strap-on boosters and capable of putting 140t in LEO and 50t in LTO (comparable to NASA’s SLS); 2) the LM-9A: lighter LM-9 rocket which only 2 strap-on boosters instead of 4, and a payload to LEO of 100t (35t LTO); 3) the LM-9B: the lightest version of them all, with no strap-on boosters and a payload dropping to 50t to LEO (20t LTO).
In the 2021 edition (21 版) announced by Long Lehao, literally everything’s changed. There is only a unique superheavy version of the Long March 9 with a payload capacity of 150t to LEO, basically similar to the previous LM-9. The rocket has no strap-on boosters, and is available in a 2-stage version for LEO, or 3-stage version for other orbits (similar to the LM-5 and 5B). To produce such a massive payload capacity with no strap-on boosters, the first stage has a huge number of engines (16 YF-135 engines). The new version also has a larger diameter (10.8 m for both the 1st and 2nd stages, as opposed to 9.5m), and is taller (108m as opposed to 103m).
Major Updates for China's Lunar Rockets, China SatNet Signs Collaboration with Chongqing - Ep 39
2) Cooperation agreement between China SatNet and the City of Chongqing
On 22 June, China SatNet and the City of Chongqing signed a cooperation agreement, whereby China SatNet will try to leverage some existing projects in Chongqing, likely referring to Hongyan and related projects.
Chongqing was, and in theory still is, the main focus city for CASC’s LEO broadband constellation project, Hongyan. This has involved significant investment by CASC, likely into a factory(ies) for satellites, and various R&D into LEO satellite applications. We have also seen significant investment into a space industry infrastructure by the Liangjiang New Area, a national-level New Area in Chongqing, this including OneSpace having built facilities there. By coming to Chongqing multiple times (they came again in May 2021), the SatNet leadership is apparently promising some level of involvement to the traditional space giant’s LEO investment.
It will be interesting to see when the SatNet leadership makes a pilgrimage to Wuhan, where CASIC has built a large satellite factory that could be put to use on building SatNet satellites. Another area of note would be Shanghai, where the CAS Shanghai Engineering Center for Microsatellites has built a large satellite factory and R&D center in the Lingang Free Trade Zone, and potentially Guangzhou, where CAS Space and GeeSpace have contributed to a growing space industry hub.
重庆市与中国卫星网络集团签署战略合作协议 陈敏尔唐良智与张冬辰杨保华座谈并见证签约
3) Zhong’an Guotong to establish a 50 billion RMB Satellite Industry Fund in Shenzhen
On June 16, Zhong’an Guotong, a Shenzhen-based company that was put on a map since 2019 for plans of an 12-15 satellite EO constellation, announced that it would set up a satellite industry fund with funding coming from many “renowned Chinese investors and industry funds”. Among them were Shenzhen Jintou Fund, Shenzhen Zhaoyuan Industrial Company, and the Zhongqing Biaogan Investment Holding. If that is a huge amount of money, the rather new company (founded in 2016) has had few tangible accomplishments in the space industry other than the launch of Zhong’an Guotong 1, a EO nanosatellite, in April 2021.
It is worth noting that the funding of this Satellite Industry Fund will be made available in 3 phases: a first phase with 5 billion RMB (775M USD), followed by a second phase with 15 billion RMB (2.3B USD), and an ultimate phase with the massive 30 billion RMB (4.6B USD). It will be interesting to see if the 2nd and 3rd phases actually materialize, and over how many years is the timeline of these funding phases.
Last point, it is interesting that the fund is coming from Shenzhen. As discussed on the DFH Episode 37, Shenzhen recently released some incentives and subsidies for satellite manufacturing companies in the city.
总规模500亿的卫星产业基金在深圳启动,重点投资卫星应用_安国
4) Qi Fazhen, one of the top academicians and space engineers of China, gives speech at Hong-Kong Polytechnic University
- along with other speeches made by leading Chinese space scientists (Hu Hao from CLEP, Sun Zezhou of Tianwen-1 at the University of Hong-Kong, Beidou’s Xie Jun and CE’4’s Zhang He at Hong-Kong Polytechnic University). Several of the talks were broadcasted on YouTube soon after, and the event generated a lot of positive publicity locally for the space sector. Sometime during their trip to Hong Kong, the space industry delegation also met with the territory’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam.
6月23日 – 航天科學家團隊進校園暨當代傑出華人科學家公開講座活動 –《中國航天與航天精神》
5) Beijing Tianlian (北京天链测控技术有限公司) announced the completion of a 100+ million RMB B-round of funding
Beijing Tianlian (北京天链测控技术有限公司) announced on June 24 that it had recently completed a B-round of funding of “over one hundred million” RMB. The round was led by CDH Investment (鼎晖投资), with two other investors Heiyan Zhongsheng (黑岩中盛) and Guoxin Sichuang Fund (国新思创). The funding will be used to establish a new command & control center and expand the current ground station network. Tianlian claims to have a current network of 35 operational ground stations worldwide, and to have provided TT&C services for 100+ satellite and launch missions. This figure is credible, considering the rapid launch pace in China over the past 4 years.
鼎晖领投,天链测控完成过亿元B轮融资
6) CGSTL and Huawei announce deepening collaboration
CGSTL and Huawei signed an agreement on 18 June, and announced it on 21st June. Signed in CGSTL’s hometown of Changchun, the agreement aims to help aid in, among other things, the development of the aerospace industry in Jilin Province, of which Changchun is the capital. The agreement used many buzz phrases, such as cloud, AI, 5G, big data, etc., all of which Huawei will allegedly be using to help get the most insights from data generated by CGSTL.
长光卫星与华为深化全面合作 为航天信息应用赋能凤凰网吉林_凤凰网
7) Cooperation agreement between Four Squares Technology (四象科技) and the Agriculture Bureau of the City of Yuyao
Remote sensing analytics company Four Squares Technology (四象科技) and the Agriculture Bureau of the City of Yuyao signed a cooperation agreement on June 24 over the Yuyao Agricultural Disaster Remote Sensing Monitoring Project. The project will combine various imaging sources (satellite, UAV, etc), apply algorithms and extract useful information for the evaluation of natural disasters on farmlands and the associated compensation to be paid by the government. According to the source, this novel methodology will be faster and represent a more scientific approach compared to the more “manual” approaches used until now.
四象科技与余姚市农业农村局成功签署合作协议
8) CETC absorbs fellow SOE Potevio Group, forming the 3rd largest information technology company
Potevio and CETC are major, state-owned electronics companies, with CETC being noteworthy for its involvement in China’s “Sky and Earth Integrated Network” (天地一体化). The merger represents consolidation of more power into CETC, which is impressive given that the company already has revenues of around US$32B, according to Fortune. The combined group would have annual revenues of more than US$50B, making it considerably larger than either CASC or CASIC, and making only Huawei and Lenovo larger Chinese technology companies. Big news for sure.
中国普天整体并入中国电科
9) Commsat Waxes Poetic about a 6G White Paper
Chinese commercial satellite manufacturer Commsat published an article on their WeChat Official Account on 21 June, with the article referring to a 6G White Paper published recently by the International Mobile Telecommunications (IMT) working group, tasked with the advancement of China’s 6G plans. Commsat’s article dives into some of the synergies between satellite internet and a future where there is seamless connectivity, everywhere, all the time.
10) Cyzone (创业邦) reveals list of 20 most important commercial space companies
On June 22, Cyzone (创业邦) revealed the list of the 20 most important commercial space companies for the year 2021. Satellite Herd (航天驭星) is one of the listed companies, along with CommSat (九天微星), JZYJ (九州云箭), ExPace (科工火箭), LandSpace (蓝箭航天), Galaxy Space (银河航天) and other major Chinese space companies.
This week, we saw the Deputy Director of the National Development and Reform Commission’s “Systems Reform Department” (体改司), Jiang Yi, and an entourage, visiting ADASpace in Chengdu. The Systems Reform Department appears to be the department of the NDRC tasked with opening up and reforming industries that have historically been dominated by SOEs. The visit to ADASpace can be taken as a positive sign around the National Government’s attitude towards satellite IoT and commercial space more generally.
国家发改委体改司副司长蒋毅一行赴国星宇航调研
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, or LinkedIn, or your local podcast source. 
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