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DFH#9: Videos from Mars, Commercial Rockets, and Long March-2D

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 #9 covering 28 June - 4 July 2021, we discuss the following:
  1. New Photos (and Videos!) from Zhurong
  2. LandSpace announces the completion of the first phase of its small and medium rocket factory in Jiaxing
  3. Deep Blue Aerospace is getting closer to achieving reusable rocket technology
  4. Successful launch of the Long March 2D on 3 July, sending several Jilin-1 satellites into orbit
  5. Remote Sensing Analytics Company Jiage Tiandi Signs Strategic Cooperation Agreement with the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Agriculture & Rural Affairs
  6. Academician Bao Weimin discusses Long-Term Space Transportation Ideas
  7. China’s Space Engineering University shares video of cubesat celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CCP
  8. Chang’e Deep Space Exploration Mission Institute Established in Nanjing’s Liuhe District
  9. Minospace Signs Agreement with CAS Xingqiao for Remote Sensing Data Downlink Operations and Analytics
  10. Fengyun-3E launch on Long March-4B
  11. Hong Kong’s Role in the Tianwen-1 Mission
1) New Photos (and Videos!) from Zhurong
This week, we saw some welcome updates on China’s Tianwen-1 Mars mission, from which we had last heard of on June 11 (with the famous Mars selfie). 16 days later, on June 27th, CNSA released a new series of Martian snapshots, which are fabulous as well.
Included were an extract of the footage from the descent phase of Zhurong, an image of the tracks left by the rover (where we can see the 中 mark again, left by the wheels), a video footage of Zhurong driving off and performing a rotation, a panoramic image of Mars, as well as a recording taken when the rover was driving off the ramps of the lander. Check out weekly podcast for more details and analysis of those footages!
New Footage from Chinese MARS Rover, Nebula M Static Fire Test, Landspace Completes Rocket Factory
2) LandSpace announces the completion of the first phase of its small and medium rocket factory in Jiaxing
LandSpace announced completion of the first phase of its Jiaxing rocket factory, aimed at producing small and medium-lift rockets. The first phase of the facility, located in the Jiaxing Aerospace Industrial Park, appears to be massive (~40 acres). LandSpace has built up quite a cluster in the Yangtze River Delta region: the Jiaxing facility is their second in the region, with a large factory in Huzhou built in 2018.
The future factory will aim to improve the digitization of LandSpace, including through different simulations for components of the rocket, and seems to be specifically aimed towards the Zhuque-2 rocket. The article also noted that the factory would contribute to the larger industrial base plan of the Aerospace Industrial Park, aiming to consolidate a “cluster of upstream and downstream supporting industrial chain enterprises”. Finally, the article also noted that the facility would contribute to the broader Yangtze River Delta space sector, which will definitely be an area to watch in the coming years.
3) Deep Blue Aerospace is getting closer to achieving reusable rocket technology
Last week, Deep Blue Aerospace released some interesting updates. The company has been working on VTVL technology to develop a reusable rocket - Nebula-2. After having completed a wet dress rehearsal for the Nebula-M in late December 2020, DBA announced on July 2 that they had completed preparations for a static fire test. The static fire test, the last test before the actual hops, would enable DBA to verify most parameters in an environment similar to operating conditions. If this is successful, DBA will then move to meter level 100-meter level hops to verify VTVL technology. It seems that we are getting very close to a first hop!
DBA is another launch company developing liquid rockets and with a focus in the Yangtze River Delta. DBA moved their registered HQ from Beijing to Nantong, Jiangsu Province, last year, having received significant funding from different Nantong-based funds. While the company’s staff likely remains largely in Beijing, they are believed to be expanding operations in Nantong, including building a rocket manufacturing facility in the city.
深蓝航天“回收复用”试验进展|“星云-M”液体回收1号试验箭完成静态点火准备
4) Successful launch of Long March 2D, sending several Jilin-1 satellites into orbit
On July 3, we saw the successful launch of a Long March-2D from Taiyuan, carrying 2x Jilin-01 satellites from CGSTL, the “XueErSi” (学而思) satellite, built in collaboration between Beijing XueErSi Education Company, Commsat, and CGSTL, and a couple more satellites.
The 2x Jilin-01 satellites are but the latest EO satellites launched by CGSTL. One of the satellites launched was developed in partnership with the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region for purposes including agriculture/crop monitoring, natural resource surveys, ecological and environmental monitoring, etc. - another interesting example of CGSTL partnering with a city or province for individual satellites, while also presumably being able to use the same satellites for the broader purposes of their constellation.
我国成功发射内蒙古一号卫星、“学而思号”卫星、“吉林一号”高分03系列卫星
5) Remote Sensing Analytics Company Jiage Tiandi Signs Strategic Cooperation Agreement with the Jiangsu Provincial Department of Agriculture & Rural Affairs
The cooperation agreement was announced on June 29. Jiage Tiandi (佳格天地) has previously announced collaboration with Huawei about a month ago, mentioned in the DFH Newsletter #5. Jiage Tiandi is one of several Earth Observation data analytics firms that collates and analyses the plethora of EO data being generated by China’s various EO constellations. The company is noteworthy in that its founder and CEO formerly worked at NASA Ames, and spent quite some years in the San Francisco Bay area. 
The deal with Jiangsu Province is a good sign - the province is comparatively wealthy, but like most of China, its agricultural sector tends to be less productive due to small farm plots and limited incentive for long-term investments into equipment. City and province-level governments have thus far been one of the bigger sources of demand for China’s EO data analytics firms, and we expect to see more such deals in the future. Jiangsu is notably part of the Yangtze River Delta.
构建农业数字孪生 | 江苏省农业农村厅与佳格天地签署战略合作协议
6) Academician Bao Weimin discusses Long-Term Space Transportation Ideas
After discussing the economic, scientific and defensive importance of space transportation technology for China, Bao Weimin - academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the International Academy of Astronautics, recently elected vice chairman of the 10th National Committee of the Chinese Association for Science and Technology -, proposes goals to be achieved in a defined timeframe for space transportation systems.
As far as Earth-to-Earth transportation and Earth-to-space/space-to-Earth transportation are concerned, the main technologies to be developed are reusable transportation and hypersonic technology. Bao Weimin proposes to have developed and successfully tested key technology for reusable transportation and have achieved first-stage recovery of VTVL rockets by 2025; having reached 10-passenger capacity for Earth-to-Earth transportation and having developed fully reusable small-lift carriers and partially reusable medium-lift VTVL launch vehicles by 2035; lastly, by 2045, having fully engineered reusable space transportation systems and having developed large-scale VTVL vehicles with a 100-passengers capacity that can perform 100+ flights, with a flight reliability of at least 0.995.
With regard to space-to-space transportation, Bao Weimin proposes to have successfully developed and tested key technologies, such as cryogenic fuel in-orbit passive evaporation control and high-power electric propulsion by 2025; have developed systems based on such technologies by 2035, as well as having further developed technologies such as in-orbit refueling; and by 2045, having fully engineered space transfer transportation systems, including between the Earth and the Moon, with a flight reliability of 0.995 and a manned-flight reliability of 0.999.
7) China’s Space Engineering University shares video of cubesat celebrating the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CCP
2021 is a key year for the Chinese political apparatus, as it is the 100th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party. And as China often does with key dates of its history, celebrations, events, and references to the country’s successes can be seen all over the place. This isn’t necessarily only done by the government, many commercial companies, as well as public institutions participate. And this is notably the case of the Space Engineering University, based in Beijing. They had sent into orbit a cubesat a couple of weeks ago on-board a Long March 2D on June 11th, and they recently shared a video of footage caught by the satellite, of a celebration panel mentioning the 100th anniversary of the CCP.
This actually comes conveniently at a time when Chinese high school students have completed their university-entrance exams called the GaoKao. The Space Engineering University likely hopes to attract aerospace-leaning students, as competition is fierce to attract the best talents. And WeChat Official Account Our Space does a nice infographic reminding us which are the main aerospace universities of the country.
8) Chang’e Deep Space Exploration Mission Institute Established in Nanjing’s Liuhe District
At the end of June was held the Nanjing Innovation Week (in Nanjing), during which took place the Liuhe Industry Innovation and Development Forum (六合产业创新发展大会). During the event, 8 new projects were announced, with a total investment reported to be above 10 billion RMB. Among the 8 projects was the Chang’e Deep Space Exploration Research Institute (嫦娥深空探索研究院), for which the scope of activity was not clearly defined (“strive to become an important part of China’s deep space exploration activities”).
The Research Institute comes in the context of Nanjing’s pursuit of developing the local space industry. Earlier this year, Nanjing was the hosting city for the annual China Space Day event. In September 2020, Nanjing also established the “China Lunar Exploration·Nanjing Liuhe Chang'e Space Industrial Park” (中国探月南京六合嫦娥太空产业园) , an space industry-themed industrial park.
嫦娥深空探索研究院落户南京六合_各区动态_南京市人民政府
9) Minospace Signs Agreement with CAS Xingqiao for Remote Sensing Data Downlink Operations and Analytics
CAS Xingqiao (中科星桥空天技术有限公司) is a subsidiary of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Aerospace Information Institute (AIR), which plays a major role in China’s civil space remote sensing ground infrastructure. CAS Xingqiao is based in Anxi county (famous for its Oolong teas…), neighboring the city of Xiamen. The company signed in September 2020 an agreement with the Digital Anxi Industral Park to establish a “Global Commercial Remote Sensing Satellite” (全球商业遥感卫星福建站). It is reported that CAS Xingqiao plans a total investment of 500 million RMB into the station, which include a scientific research building, 4 (fixed) satellite downlink stations, 1 mobile receiving equipment, a satellite control center, and data processing infrastructure. The company expects to have the capacity to operate 40 to 80 remote sensing satellites; process and distribute “Petabyte scale high-resolution remote sensing data”.
The agreement with Minospace covers the operation of the ground station as well as data processing. The first satellites to use the Fujian ground station are reported to be optical high-res satellites (0.9 m) in a 500 km (likely sun-synchronous) orbit.
10) Fengyun-3E launch on Long March-4B
July 5th saw the successful launch of Fengyun-3E meteorology satellite onboard a Long March-4B from the Jiuquan launch center. It is the world’s first meteorological satellite for civilian use to operate in the twilight orbit - i.e., between 5am and 7am. The satellite will mainly be used to collect meteorological data and to monitor climate change. This launch follows that of Fengyun-4B, on 3 June.
Both the LM-4B and FY-3E were manufactured by the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST), a subsidiary of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).
我国成功发射风云三号E气象卫星
11) Hong Kong’s Role in the Tianwen-1 Mission
An article published by China Daily on June 29 detailed the role of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) in the Tianwen-1 Mission. A group of 20 Hong Kong scientists, led by Wu Bo (a professor in PolyU’s department of land surveying and geo-informatics) was tasked with choosing the safest landing site for the Tianwen-1 lander. Wang Yiran, a postdoctoral fellow at PolyU who was working in Beijing for the entire duration of the project, was tasked with determining the exact location of the spacecraft after landing.
Another PolyU team led by Yung Kai-leung, associate head of the department of industrial and systems engineering, developed a surveillance camera for the Tianwen-1 lander. PolyU’s contribution to China’s Mars mission is also celebrated at the exhibition taking place in the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, where Moon samples are displayed.
HK team plays crucial role in mission to Mars - Chinadaily.com.cn
This has been another episode of the Dongfang Hour China 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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