Mis­sile gi­ant seeks 20% of a satel­lite mar­ket

China Daily (USA) - - TOP NEWS - By ZHAO LEI in Wuhan zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

China Aero­space Sci­ence and In­dus­try Corp, the largest mis­sile maker in the coun­try, is tak­ing aim at 20 per­cent or more of the small-satel­lite launch con­tracts in the world by 2020, com­pany ex­ec­u­tives said.

“We es­ti­mate that from 2017 to 2020, we will send aloft at least 10 solid-fuel car­rier rock­ets each year, to send about 50 small satel­lites into or­bit,” said Guo Yong, pres­i­dent of the CASIC Fourth Academy, in an ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with China Daily in Wuhan, cap­i­tal of Hubei prov­ince. That, he said, would ac­count for “about one-fifth of the es­ti­mated to­tal an­nual mis­sions of solid-fuel rock­ets around the world in that pe­riod”.

Guo said let­ters of in­tent to use nearly 20 Kuaizhou rock­ets were signed at the 11th China In­ter­na­tional Avi­a­tion and Aero­space Ex­hi­bi­tion this month in Zhuhai, Guang­dong prov­ince.

“Our clients told us that they hope the launch of their satel­lites will be ar­ranged as early as pos­si­ble,” Guo added.

In mid-Fe­bru­ary, the academy set up China’s sec­ond com­mer­cial launch provider, Ex­pace Tech­nol­ogy Co. The first was China Great Wall In­dus­try Corp, es­tab­lished in 1980, which is part of China Aero­space Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Corp.

Great Wall In­dus­try has done 54 com­mer­cial launches for over 20 over­seas clients since 1990, when it launched its first for­eign-made satel­lite. All of those com­mer­cial mis­sions used Long March rock­ets de­vel­oped by Great Wall’s par­ent com­pany.

Zhang Di, vice-pres­i­dent of the CASIC Fourth Academy and chair­man of Ex­pace, said Ex­pace plans its first com­mer­cial space launch early in 2017, us­ing a Kuaizhou 1 to put three Earth ob­ser­va­tion satel­lites made by State-owned Chang­guang Satel­lite Tech­nol­ogy Co in or­bit. The con­tract is worth about 100 mil­lion yuan ($14.5 mil­lion).

More than 10 other Chang­guang satel­lites are “in their store­houses wait­ing to be launched by Kuaizhou rock­ets”, Zhang quoted Chang­guang ex­ec­u­tives as say­ing.

Ex­pace is in talks with satel­lite mak­ers in Asia, Europe and Latin Amer­ica and has taken part in pub­lic bid­ding on their com­mer­cial launches, ac­cord­ing to Zhang.

“For­eign clients told us that they are in­ter­ested in Kuaizhou rock­ets’ strong ca­pa­bil­i­ties and com­pet­i­tive prices,” Zhang said. “The Kuaizhou mod­els are specif­i­cally de­signed for launches of small satel­lites. They are ca­pa­ble of lift­ing four to six satel­lites to mul­ti­ple or­bits in a sin­gle flight and re­quire a short pe­riod of time for pre-launch prepa­ra­tions, and fewer than 10 op­er­a­tors.”

Ex­pace charges around $10,000 for each kilo­gram of pay­load com­pared with the av­er­age in­ter­na­tional rate of $25,000 to $30,000.

CASIC Fourth Academy be­gan to de­velop Kuaizhou rock­ets in 2009, in­tend­ing to form a low-cost, quick­re­sponse rocket fam­ily for the com­mer­cial mar­ket.

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