Euroconsult hosted a China Space Industry webinar this past Thursday, and it was a doozy. Five panelists from five of China’s premier commercial space companies sharing the stage for an 80-minute conversation. Represented were 1x pure-play satellite manufacturer (Commsat), 2x hybrid manufacturers/operators (CGSTL, Spacety), 1x launch company (Galactic Energy), and 1x TT&C company (the brilliantly-named Satellite Herd).
The event will eventually be posted online, but in the meantime, a short summary of the main takeaways. First, according to company VP and Chief Engineer Zhong Xing, CGSTL is now at around 500 employees, of which more than 80% have a Masters’ degree or PhD. This would make CGSTL one of the larger commercial space companies in China, though still a drop in the proverbial bucket compared to behemoths like CASC (180,000 employees), or even high-level CASC subsidiaries such as CAST (~20,000 employees).
Another interesting point is the level of collaboration between those Chinese commercial space companies. First, everyone buys TT&C services from Satellite Herd. CGSTL buys payload-related parts from Commsat, while Spacety cooperates with both Commsat and CGSTL on different things. CGSTL, among others, have held talks with Galactic Energy about commercial launch services. It could be speculation, but it is possible that one of the elements that encourages the cooperation mindset is the extent to which commercial companies are living in a very different world from the SOEs in the Chinese space sector. In short, the precariousness of one’s existence as a Chinese commercial space firm might make it more advantageous to stick together with other commercial space firms.