View profile

DFHour #39: China's 2021 Space White Paper 🇨🇳 📄 A Record Month for Funding 🚀💴 and More

The Dongfang Hour
The Dongfang Hour
Your Weekly China Space Industry Summary, by Blaine Curcio and Jean Deville, and with editing by Orbital Gateway Consulting Analyst Aurélie Gillet.

What's up in Chinese Space this Week?
Welcome to the Dongfang Hour China Space Newsletter for 24-30 Jan 2022. This week, we discuss the publication of China’s five-yearly Space White Paper, a record month for funding amidst record years for China’s commercial launch firms, a satellite docking maneuver, and the launch of a SAR satellite with some amazing videos (see below!).
Highlight of the Week: China’s 2021 Space White Paper
This week saw the publication of China’s five-yearly Space White Paper (English, Chinese versions), the most recent of which was published in 2016. The White Paper, published by the State Council, typically reviews major accomplishments over the past 5 years, outlines main tasks for the coming 5 years, and discusses specific policies, initiatives, and international collaboration.
For a full deep-dive of this year’s White Paper, check out our recent feature at below. In terms of highlights, the White Paper was arguably more ambitious than those in year’s past, with somewhat less specific, but also less easy goals and ideas presented.
Ushering in a New Era of Chinese Space: The 2021 Space White Paper - Dongfang Hour
This included significant emphasis on international collaboration, large-scale space exploration projects such as the Chinese Space Station and ILRS, and a couple of oddly specific provisions to prioritize communications satellites for Pakistan, and the development of the Pakistani Space Center and the Egyptian Space City.
The White Paper also called for more unified technical standards, made repeated mention of the United Nations as the global body responsible for safeguarding global outer space affairs, and generally called for a global space community that is not dominated by any one country.
Separately, we saw emphasis on more deeply integrating space into the broader economy. This will include deeper integration between space systems (i.e. integration of data from EO, satnav, and comms satellites), and also integration of terrestrial infrastructure with China’s space assets through initiatives such as the Sky-Earth Integration Megaproject (天地一体化).
Ultimately, the White Paper included many projects and proclamations that we were more or less expecting, but was nonetheless a heck of a recap, and forward look, at China’s space achievements and future plans. All of that said, it was far from the only news of the week!
The Week in Launch
The past couple of weeks have seen a record number of rounds of funding in launch in Chinese NewSpace, and the star of the show was undoubtedly Galactic Energy, a launch company that raised ¥1.27 billion or US$200 million in a new B/B+ round of funding. This is the second largest funding round in the history of Chinese NewSpace after CGSTL in 2020, and the highest funding round ever for a Chinese commercial launch startup. It will be used for the development of the company’s launch infrastructure as well as of its Pallas-1, a kerelox-fueled rocket for which the maiden launch is planned for 2023. We dive into the funding round in more detail on this week’s Dongfang Hour.
To put this round of funding into some context: the focus of the Chinese commercial launch sector today is a race to launch a liquid-fueled reusable medium-lift rocket, which should be the type of rocket to capture most of China’s constellation deployment launches in the future. Around 20 commercial launch companies are currently developing such a rocket, yet only a handful are close to the finish line – notably iSpace, Landspace, Galactic Energy, and perhaps a few others (DBA, Space Pioneer).
Secondly, Deep Blue Aerospace, another launch company (which we could probably put as 4th or 5th in the liquid-fueled rocket race), raised “nearly 200M RMB” in a A round of funding on January 18th, and this money will go to funding their Nebula-1 liquid-fueled rocket.
Thirdly, Orienspace (aka Ospace) announced a Pre-A funding round of RMB 300M this week, with funding coming from a consortium of financiers including Heyu Capital, Cloud Nine Capital, and Miracle Plus Capital. The company has now raised an impressive ¥700M since being founded last year, with the most recent round to be used in developing their Gravity-1 rocket. 
Fourthly, SpaceTrek, a commercial company focusing on suborbital launch, has recently raised “tens of millions of RMB” in a new round of funding. The money came from a development fund from the city of Weifang, as well as Zibo investment, and will be used to develop the company’s liquid rockets and Changfeng missile. Interestingly, the company’s transparency regarding its involvement in both civil and military projects is in stark contrast with many other commercial companies that tend to emphasize their purely civil and commercial nature. 
Lastly, Expace, a commercial launch spin-off of CASIC, has recently announced that its B round of funding and share expansion had been listed on the Shanghai United Assets And Equity Exchange platform on January 26. Next, the company will carry out due diligence and select registered investors. This announcement arises ~2 months after the launch failure of the Kuaizhou-1A rocket on December 14th.
Galactic Energy's Pallas-1 rocket
Galactic Energy's Pallas-1 rocket
Staying on the topic of suborbital launch, Space Transportation has recently accomplished its 10th and 11th suborbital launches with its Tianxing series. The 10th launch of its Tianxing-I subsonic spacecraft, which also represented the 1st launch of the year for the company, took place on 23 January. The next day, the Combustion and Propulsion Laboratory of Tsinghua University used a two-stage Tianxing rocket to test a scramjet prototype (supersonic-combustion ramjet). The Combustion and Propulsion Laboratory was in charge of the engine design, and U-Power (清航空天(北京)科技有限公司) of its manufacture and assembly. The test was reportedly a success. Watch our weekly episode to learn more about the gain in momentum of suborbital launch companies.
Assembly of the scramjet
Assembly of the scramjet
This week also saw the signature of a strategic cooperation agreement between Orienspace and the Chinese methalox engine manufacturer Aerospace Propulsion – meaning that Orienspace could source their methalox engines from Aerospace Propulsion. This makes sense because Orienspace is a very new rocket company (founded in June 2020), and this all bears a strong resemblance with the move of another competitor, Rocket Pi, also a very new rocket company, officializing the purchase of off-the-shelf methalox engines from engine manufacturer Jiuzhou Yunjian.
Regarding imminent launches, Adaspace’s Xingshidai-17, part of the company’s Xingshidai constellation, was shipped from its factory this week for launch to occur later this quarter joining the company’s EO/IoT constellation. The satellite was named after the Chengdu Summer Universiade. It will be part of the upcoming Long March 8A rideshare launch in Wenchang in Q12022.
China’s first Long March 6A has arrived at the Taiyuan Launch site. It is due for launch in Q12022, and is China’s first rocket using both solid-fueled (boosters) and liquid-fueled (core stages) propulsion.
Progress was made in terms of engines and rocket technology this week. In particular, commercial rocket engine manufacturer Jiuzhou Yunjian (JZYJ) completed further tests of its Longyun liquid methalox engine at the company’s Bengbu testing facility in Bengbu, Anhui Province this week. The 291s hot test was conducted at the newly-completed #2 station of the company’s engine testing facility, with the new station allowing for 100t thrust tests. 
The Lanzhou Institute of Physics (under CAST) completes a new milestone in the development of high-power hall-effect thrusters: it indeed fired the Xenon-fueled HET-450 engine producing 105 kW of power and 4.6N of thrust, a performance close to that of the notorious X3 Hall-effect thrust developed by the University of Michigan & NASA.
Xenon-fueled HET-450 engine
Xenon-fueled HET-450 engine
Rocket Pi’s Darwin-2 rocket successfully passed the preliminary technical design review and can now transition to the R&D phase. Besides building rockets, the company also ambitions to build a commercial orbital space biology lab by 2025.
Linkspace successfully performed static cold flow tests with the RLV-T6 prototype, a suborbital fully reusable methalox rocket. This success paves the way for subsequent static hot tests, as well as for a 100-km altitude VTVL attempt planned for 2022.
Linkspace's RLV-T6 prototype
Linkspace's RLV-T6 prototype
SpaceTai recently announced 2 new rockets, the Feitian and the Feitian X, capable of putting 4t and 15t into LEO. Both rockets would be reusable and using the in-house developed Xiaoyi kerolox engine, and are notable for being >90% 3D printed. The company estimates that the rockets will represent a total investment of about 600 million yuan in the initial stage of development, and that their maiden launch will take place in 2024.
Lastly, China launches 3.2t L-SAR 01A satellite into orbit. The following L-SAR 01B is scheduled for launch at the end of February. Their objective is to enable surface deformation monitoring and terrain mapping, environmental monitoring and disaster prevention, as illustrated by the great video by SAST, included in the article.
L-SAR 01A in action
L-SAR 01A in action
The Week in Satellite Manufacturing + operation
China’s Shijian-21 satellite was reported to have docked with another satellite, this according to Exoanalytic Solutions at a talk organized by the Secure World Foundation. Shijian-21 allegedly docked with the BeiDou-2 G2 satellite in GEO orbit and tugged it beyond GEO graveyard orbit, demonstrating a technology thus far only demonstrated by the US. As Victoria Samson, Washington Office director at the Secure World Foundation, pointed out:
“You could look at China working to develop the capability to remove inactive satellites on orbit as a way in which it is being a responsible space actor and cleaning up debris that it caused. Or you could use the lens that a lot of the US-based China watchers use and say that this could indicate that China is developing an on-orbit offensive capability.”
Commsat won the bid for the “New Generation Information and Communication Technology Innovation” research project from the Beijing Municipal Science and Technology Commission, focusing on satellite on-board processing for 5G broadband satellites (基于5G星上处理的宽带通信载荷原理样机研制). As LEO is becoming increasingly crowded and spectrum access increasingly competitive, and given China’s limited ability to deploy ground stations worldwide, space-based solutions become increasingly strategic. Developing a prototype of broadband communication payload based on 5G satellite processing can enable to reduce the capability gap between China and international standards in terms of inter-satellite routing and onboard processing. Commsat has been participating in the construction of the new national satellite Internet infrastructure since 2019; the company has launched a total of 9 satellites so far, and its first LEO broadband communication test satellite has passed the review stage.
On January 23, CASC released the 3rd edition of SpaceOS, an operating system for spacecraft. The SpaceOS series, developed by Beijing Institute of Control Engineering of CASC, has played an important role in manned spaceflight, communication satellites, Beidou navigation satellites, deep space exploration, among others, with the first two versions having been used on more than 300 spacecraft and 8000 satellites. The Institute began the development of this 3rd edition of SpaceOS in 2019.
Feedback? Let us know your thoughts on the newsletter at We’d love to hear from you.
Getting value from our content? Support us by buying us some coffee.
Want more of the Dongfang Hour? Check out our websiteYouTubeTwitter, and LinkedIn.
Did you enjoy this issue? Yes No
The Dongfang Hour
The Dongfang Hour @DongFangHour

Your Weekly China Space Industry Summary, with a touch of eccentricity and some attempts at humor.

In order to unsubscribe, click here.
If you were forwarded this newsletter and you like it, you can subscribe here.
Created with Revue by Twitter.