by Blaine Curcio and Jean Deville
As a part of the partnership between SpaceWatch.World and Orbital Gateway Consulting we’ve got been granted permission to publish chosen articles and texts. We’re happy to current “Dongfang Hour China Aerospace Information Roundup 19 April – 25 April 2021”.
Hi there and welcome to a different episode of the Dongfang Hour China Aero/House Information Roundup! A particular shout-out to our mates at GoTaikonauts!, and at SpaceWatch.World, each glorious sources of area trade information. Specifically, we recommend testing GoTaikonauts! long-form China reporting, in addition to the House Cafe collection from SpaceWatch.World. With out additional ado, the information replace from the week of 119 April – 25 April 2021.
1) The sixth China House Day befell in Nanjing on Saturday, April 24
Completely satisfied China House Day everybody! This Saturday, China kicked off its sixth China House Day, an annual celebration selling China’s area heritage and future area applications. China House Day is not truly one occasion, however truly hundreds of events throughout the nation, with many institutes, universities, and faculties organizing area outreach occasions. This contains conferences, shows, exhibitions, and many others. It’s clear that this occasion is meant to foster curiosity from the young generations in direction of area sciences and China’s area achievements: with drawing contests, creative performances and many others.
It’s additionally price noting that amongst all of the area occasions happening in China, there may be one huge official occasion the place all of the space industry creme-de-la-creme get together, and which final two days. Yearly CSD takes place in a special metropolis, and this yr it befell in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province. Speeches were delivered by Zhang Kejian (director of the CNSA), Wu Zhenglong (governor or Jiangsu), Han Liming (Secretary of the Nanjing Communist Social gathering). There have been additionally award distribution ceremonies, presentations on the space industry, panels, exhibitions, movies on China’s area achievements …
You possibly can understand the delight that the Chinese language have for his or her area achievements, and plenty of the official supplies are likely to instil this sense of delight. A take a look at the official China Space Day clip launched by the CNSA is kind of suggestive of this: (runs the video).
There could be fairly a bit to unpack right here, simply a few factors I wished to notice on this video:
- Initially, it highlights all the Chinese language latest achievements up to now yr: finishing the Beidou constellation, launching China’s Subsequent Era Crewed Car, Chang’e 5 pattern return, the continued Tianwen-1 mars mission, the maiden launch of Lengthy March 8, … (and that is whenever you notice how dynamic Chinese language area truly is).
- It additionally highlights future missions to happen within the subsequent 5 years: the so-called 4th section of CLEP (CE6-Eight missions), the asteroid pattern return mission, and the heliosphere probes.
- Final however not least: the message on the finish saying: self-reliance, home-grown innovation (自力更生，自主创新), which is actually a push for innovation, but additionally highlights as soon as once more how decoupled the Chinese language area trade is and the way it’s cautious of relying too closely on any non-Chinese language third get together.
Positively, a giant occasion that appears to be getting larger yearly. Yearly throughout China House Day, it takes me again to my first time attending the occasion, in April 2018 on the Harbin Institute of Know-how. On the time, I recall seeing Landspace CEO Roger Zhang give a speech to a completely standing-room solely crowd in a really dumpy auditorium in some obscure educational constructing of the HIT. How occasions have modified for China’s business area sector.
Takeaways this yr:
- Positively agree that we’ve seen extra outreach. Of word, the China House Day poster was a lot less complicated than in yr’s previous, exhibiting a seemingly father-daughter mixture in some inexperienced rolling hills with a telescope, trying up at a sky dominated by a Chinese language House Station, Lengthy March-5, and different missions. Within the rolling hills in direction of the sundown, you possibly can see a number of observatories. In brief, it’s a poster centered on area fascinating a really average-looking (if not additionally very yuppie-looking) father-daughter. On the outreach entrance, even Baidu’s search outcomes for China House Day bought a giant improve from final yr.
- Lastly, we noticed an announcement of the title of China’s Mars rover, which is presently on-board the Tianwen-1 spacecraft in orbit round Mars, and which is meant to land someday in Could. Among the many ten names that had been shortlisted by Chinese language netizens, the name Zhurong (祝融) was officially announced by Wu Yanhua, the deputy director of CNSA. Zhurong is a god of fireside in Chinese language mythology. Great things, although I nonetheless choose Qilin or Zhuimeng.
2) ChinaSat Made Some Huge Statements about China’s Constellation Plans
ChinaSat President Ge Yujin made some very fascinating feedback at an annual shareholders assembly for the corporate, as reported by Satellite World (卫星界) on Monday. Essentially the most fascinating line was a reply to a query about Hongyan, particularly a reporter mentioning that Hongyan was initially deliberate for completion in 2020, and asking for a standing replace.
Mr. Ge replied by mentioning that Hongyan was initially launched in 2018, and that it has since, together with CASIC’s Hongyun, come beneath the nationwide constellation system plan, with Hongyan understood to be present process main adjustments. (“您好，感谢您的提问。“鸿雁”全球卫星星座通信系统首发星确第公司下属子公司深圳东方红承研并在2018年成功发射。但据了解，包括航天科技集团的“鸿雁”系统、航天科工集团的“虹云”系统在内的相关星座建设计划，国家相关部门正在进行统筹规划，我们理解“鸿雁”星座的原计划将出现重大变化”).
What makes this fascinating? For starters, the point out of Hongyan and Hongyun in the identical sentence beneath the thought of reorganization of nationwide constellation plans. As we most lately speculated on Dongfang Hour Episode 27, China’s LEO broadband ambitions are prone to consolidate the Hongyan and Hongyun constellations into one, seemingly a Guowang constellation mentioned on DFHour Episode 1, whereas leaving Xingyun to develop independently as a type of Chinese language Iridium. Ge’s statements this week would appear to help such an concept.
Additionally noteworthy is the truth that that is ChinaSat’s President. ChinaSat has accountability for Hongyan/broadband in China to the extent that they’re presently the primary satellite tv for pc operator, nonetheless, Hongyan (or GW) is finally a bigger undertaking by far than ChinaSat–that’s, it’s principally a CASC-level undertaking. The truth that ChinaSat mentioned these constellation plans is critical, however….I’ll be extra prone to completely imagine them once I see these phrases uttered by somebody from CASC.
Remaining level: the point out of CASIC’s Hongyun is an fascinating one. CASIC and CASC don’t get alongside very properly, although as we famous in final week’s episode, CASIC’s newish Chairman, Yuan Jie, is a former CASC govt. It’s not clear how it will shake out, but it surely appears CASIC might have to be glad in the event that they get a mandate for narrowband/Xingyun constellation, and lose out on broadband to CASC.
Positively agree that it’s fascinating information to see a excessive rating area official (China Satcom president), sometimes somebody who would concentrate on the main points of backdoor discussions, convey up the subject, and it does affirm to some extent the hypothesis on the consolidation.
I positively agree additionally that there’s a query mark on the position that China Satcom will play. As China’s primary satellite tv for pc operator, it could appear at first look that it could have a number one position with China’s future GW broadband constellation, however hypothesis on the creation of a separate devoted SoE to function GW final yr together with the management of this new SoE means that China Satcom might have a way more restricted position in China’s future satellite tv for pc web infrastructure.
And talking of China’s satellite tv for pc web infrastructure…
3) Spacety and Intane Optics full China’s first non-public satellite-ground laser comms experiment
Two Chinese language non-public corporations, Spacety (a satellite tv for pc producer) and Intane Optics (optics subsystem producer) announced in a press release on April 4th that that they had achieved China’s first non-public laser satellite-ground comms.
As typical earlier than digging into this piece of stories, some background:
- Spacety is without doubt one of the fast-moving non-public Chinese language satellite tv for pc producers, primarily based in Changsha, and which has despatched many cubesats and smallsats into orbit (20-ish in early 2021) because it was based in 2016.
- Intane Optics then again is a CAS spin-off based in 2003 and primarily based in Nanjing. They’re a producer of optical devices (traditionally astronomy) however have lately diversified in laser comms.
Again to the information, this satellite-ground laser comms experiment was accomplished with the Beihangsat-1, a Spacety cubesat launched in November 2020 which was basically a check satellite tv for pc for space-based ADS-B (air visitors management), but it surely additionally carried the SG10-1 optical payload manufactured by Intane. The optical floor station was additionally supplied by Intane, primarily based in Nanjing Chaoyang.
Primarily based on that, Intane and Spacety have began a batch of laser comms exams, beginning in December 2020, and attain roughly 50 by early April. In accordance with the press launch, these experiments had been carried out beneath completely different meteorology situations, and aimed “evaluating beam monitoring efficiency, analyzing the impression of atmospheric turbulence on communications, and testing downlinking of distant sensing knowledge”.
That is important information for a number of causes. Initially, whereas this isn’t China’s first laser satellite-ground comms experiment (though there’s solely been a handful to date), all earlier experiments had been led by state-owned gamers, notably universities and analysis institutes. So this experiment from Spacety/Intane Optics represents the primary non-public corporations to do that expertise, exhibiting a primary step into the commercialization of a expertise that’s nonetheless usually thought of by many as early stage.
I feel there may be additionally a expertise feat in what was achieved: laser comms isn’t any simple process. There may be initially the excessive precision capturing of the satellite tv for pc by the telescope mount, the in-orbit optical module additionally has to level the laser precisely on the floor; and finally there may be the problem posed by the ambiance, by clouds, and by background mild. So good on Spacety and Intane Optics.
Final level, The press launch mentions China’s latest Satellite tv for pc Web Infrastructure coverage, regarding our earlier level. Will probably be fascinating to see if laser comms have a task to play sooner or later satellite tv for pc web infrastructure. Possible sure, as China’s 14th FYP has urged establishing a community of quantum satellites over the subsequent 5-10 years.
One level so as to add–this check concerned an observatory in Nanjing, Jiangsu province. I’d word that with China House Day (Nanjing), the Spacety/Intane information, and issues like DBA and Galaxy House in Nantong, Jiangsu is a trending matter these days within the area sector. Trending matter that it’s, the final piece of stories this week additionally comes from Jiangsu, with Tianbing Aerospace saying an clever rocket manufacturing base in Suzhou.
4) Tianbing Aerospace Declares an Clever Rocket Manufacturing Base in Suzhou
Tianbing Aerospace, aka House Pioneer, held a signing ceremony this week for an “Clever Rocket Manufacturing Base” in Zhangjiagang, Suzhou. The manufacturing base features a complete funding of RMB 4B, and goals at a capability of 30 liquid rockets and 300 engines per yr, with an estimated completion date of 2022. A couple of different fascinating nuggets of information from the article:
- Tianbing Aerospace plans to launch its first Tianlong-1 liquid service rocket by the top of 2021, which, based on the exhibition proven on the signing ceremony, would make Tianbing the primary medium-sized liquid-fueled rocket in China.
- Tianbing additionally claims to have pre-sold 10 rockets to date, and plans to start batch manufacturing its rockets by subsequent yr.
- The corporate plans to IPO earlier than the top of 2023.
- Not talked about within the article, however Tianbing has been an aggressive fundraiser lately, having accomplished Three rounds of funding in 2020. It seems they didn’t elevate any cash this week/throughout the signing of the clever industrial base.
General, an fascinating replace from one among China’s later-founded launch corporations. Tianbing Aerospace has additionally been one of many extra “government-focused” business launch corporations, at the least when contemplating its funding sources (largely native/provincial authorities funds) and in addition its stage of openness (the corporate has flown largely beneath the radar till lately). It is usually price noting that along with the Eight or so business rocket industrial bases that we listed on a latest episode of the Dongfang Hour, we now have one other one, this time in Suzhou.
Tianbing is an fascinating Chinese language rocket firm to convey up. As talked about, it is without doubt one of the second technology Chinese language rocket corporations, based as late as 2019, by Kang Yonglai, the present CEO and the previous CTO of Landspace.
It is usually fascinating from a technological perspective. It takes a novel strategy utilizing what it calls “HCP green propulsion” for its Tianhuo engines (which energy the Tianlong rocket talked about by Blaine). What that is is definitely a combined monopropellant. A monopropellant principally is a chemical part that reacts with itself, for instance by means of decomposition, and usually in a extremely exothermic response that produces thrust.
That is an incredible property since you don’t need to retailer two completely different sorts of fuels, you solely want a single tank (–> much less weight), you don’t have the problems of various fluid densities, which could be a headache for the turbopump techniques. It’s additionally storable, so that you don’t have to gasoline the rocket simply earlier than launch. Few elements additionally imply increased reliability. On paper, it’s superb, and if used because the propellant for the primary stage engine it could be a world-first, I imagine different monopropellants to date, notably hydrazine, have solely been used for higher phases or orbital maneuver propulsion techniques.
The so-called HCP would even be an superb alternative for hydrazine: it ought to have a increased particular impulse, and extra importantly, it doesn’t have the robust toxicity of hydrazine (and which might be why it’s known as a “inexperienced propellant”).
Now I’ve additionally heard some scepticism on Tianbing, and notably its timeline: the sort of monopropellant is a brand new expertise, it’s not fully properly understood, and would imply designing turbopumps, ignition or catalytic techniques, combustion chambers, and many others with out the many years of expertise that the trade presently has with fuels like kerosene. So I’ve doubts about seeing the launch of a Tianlong-1 rocket in 2021, counting on HCP for its primary propulsion techniques.
However hey, Tianbing appears to be elevating cash, buyers should be assured; and we do see movies exhibiting what seems like profitable sizzling hearth engine exams of the 30t thrust Tianhuo-Three engine. So we could also be positively shocked by Tianbing.
This has been one other episode of the Dongfang Hour China Aero/House Information Roundup. In case you’ve made it this far, we thanks to your variety consideration, and look ahead to seeing you subsequent time! Till then, don’t neglect to observe us on YouTube, Twitter, or LinkedIn, or your native podcast supply.
Blaine Curcio has spent the previous 10 years on the intersection of China and the area sector. Blaine has spent many of the previous decade in China, together with Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Beijing, working as a marketing consultant and analyst masking the area/satcom sector for corporations together with Euroconsult and Orbital Gateway Consulting. When not speaking about China area, Blaine could be discovered studying about economics/finance, exploring cities, and taking photographs.
Jean Deville is a graduate from ISAE, the place he studied aerospace engineering and specialised in fluid dynamics. A protracted-time aerospace fanatic and China watcher, Jean was beforehand primarily based in Toulouse and Shenzhen, and is presently working within the aviation trade between Paris and Shanghai. He additionally writes regularly within the China Aerospace Blog. Hobbies embrace mountain climbing, astrophotography, aircraft recognizing, in addition to a gentle spot for Hakka meals and (some) Ningxia wines.