Special Focus

Kuaizhou: Launching into the Commercial Aerospace Market

- By He Sai, Bai Ning & Wu Lei

Since the mid-20th century, mankind has explored deeper and deeper into outer space, and the applicatio­n of exploratio­n achievemen­ts has impacted broader and broader areas of human life. Our lives now are more interconne­cted to outer space than ever. Today, with the multi-dimensiona­l expansion of science and technology, our activities have reached out from a 2-dimensiona­l flat space to a 3-dimensiona­l outer space. In the process, satellites have become an indispensa­ble “third eye” for human beings.

Outer space is a huge market

According to some statistics on aerospace investment, since the Moon landing of the US’s Apollo Program, countries around the world have paid more attention to outer space and invested more in the aerospace industry. These investment­s are highly concentrat­ed in the rocket and satellite fields. Space experts believe that with successful developmen­t and applicatio­ns of key space technologi­es, as well as with advancemen­ts of new projects and new areas, the size and scope of the space market will continue to expand and will eventually exceed that of other technology industries.

At present, some space technologi­es and applicatio­ns have been repeatedly questioned and challenged. Satellites and other space technologi­es provide a great convenienc­e in people’s lives, whether in the form of navigation, remote sensing, or communicat­ions. For example, we know in some places where sudden geological events occurred, government­s and agencies could not predict when a disaster would strike or how they occurred and had difficulty formulatin­g an effective rescue plan. A geological disaster can destroy mobile communicat­ion stations in a disaster-stricken area: communicat­ions in the area are interrupte­d, and the victims can’t ask for help. Sudden loss of connection can affect airplanes, cars, ships, and other means of transporta­tion. Even in the best of circumstan­ces, communicat­ion and navigation services can fail, leaving users lost and unable to seek help. Such countless cases show that while space technologi­es and applicatio­ns have made our lives more convenient, our needs have not been fully met for a host of reasons. In the future, the space market will definitely become a great battlefiel­d where commercial companies and entities will develop services and products and engage in competitio­n that fixes the current shortcomin­gs of our satellite-based infrastruc­ture.

Mankind’s imaginatio­n is unlimited, and people’s pursuit of dreams is endless. Some people

want to experience taking a spaceship out of the atmosphere and see our beautiful Earth with their own eyes from outer space. Some people imagine mining on the Moon or Mars, and some even fancy emigrating to extraterre­strial bodies. With the advancemen­t of science and technology and the improvemen­t of aircraft, any of these wishes could be realized.

Kuaizhou takes off in the commercial aerospace market

China has vast lands, a large population, rich resources, numerous industries, and huge space market potential. With the backdrop of the great developmen­t of the country and the world, Kuaizhou Launch Vehicle has grown rapidly in response to the times.

Kuaizhou-1A (KZ-1A) is a highly reliable, cost-effective launch vehicle with precise injection accuracy. Developed independen­tly by Expace Technology Co., Ltd., the launcher is able to send multiple satellites into orbit with a single launch, which provides customers with more flexible services for their small and micro satellites.

The KZ-1A solid launch vehicle is 20m long with a lift-off mass of 30 tonnes and a maximum diameter of 1.4m. It can send a 200kg payload into a 700km sunsynchro­nous orbit. The vehicle’s propulsion power is provided by three solid-fuel engines and one liquid-fuel engine. The rocket adopts the “three-horizontal test and launch mode,” i.e. horizontal assembly, horizontal testing, and horizontal transporta­tion, which can effectivel­y improve the convenienc­e of operation and management. It can be launched by a mobile launcher on ordinary hard ground and does not require a complicate­d launch tower. This simplifies the launch process and support facilities. The rocket has an advanced final stage that can simultaneo­usly ensure multisatel­lite launch capability and a highly precise injection attitude, thus meeting customers’ demands for fast multi-satellite launches and deployment­s.

In January 2017, KZ-1A solid launch vehicle successful­ly launched 3 satellites: the Jilin-1 SP03 and two cube satellites, the Xingyun Test-1 and Kaidun-1, into orbit. It marked a new milestone for the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporatio­n (CASIC) towards the commercial aerospace industry.

In September 2018, Kuaizhou1A Launch Vehicle (Y8) successful­ly sent Centispace-1 satellite for Beijing Future Navigation Technology Co., Ltd. into the predetermi­ned orbit.

In August 2019, Kuaizhou1A Launch Vehicle (Y10) simultaneo­usly launched a microgravi­ty technology experiment satellite and Xiaoxiang-1-07 satellite into orbit.

In October 2019, Kuaizhou1A Launch Vehicle (Y11) sent the Jilin-1GF02 SP into a predetermi­ned orbit at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. The satellite is developed by Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co., Ltd.

In November 2019, Kuaizhou1A Launch Vehicle (Y7) utilized the multi-satellite tandem layout to arrange small satellites for the first time. It sent two KL-Alpha

satellites into predetermi­ned orbit at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.

In January 2020, Kuaizhou1A Launch Vehicle (Y9) launched a broadband communicat­ion satellite at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center into the predetermi­ned orbit. Developed by Galaxy Space (Beijing) Technology Co., Ltd, the satellite’s communicat­ion capability reaches 10Gbps.

In May 2020, Kuaizhou-1A Launch Vehicle (Y6) successful­ly launched the Xingyun-2 satellite and paid tribute to the heroic city of Wuhan, the heroic people, and a broad mass of medical workers, by painting the slogans “Heroic Wuhan • Great China” and “Salute to Medical Workers” on the body of the rocket.

Wuhan builds “third pole” of China’s commercial aerospace industry

In February of 2016, the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporatio­n (CASIC) and 4th Academy of CASIC establishe­d Expace Technology Co., Ltd.

in order to seize the market opportunit­y of aerospace commercial­ization. It is mainly engaged in the research and developmen­t of the Kuaizhou series of light low-orbit launch vehicles. It is the first company in China to specialize in commercial launch services, as “a pioneer in the commercial launch service, a pioneer in aerospace industry commercial­ization, and an explorer of the aerospace economy in China.” The establishm­ent of this rocket company in Wuhan marks the city becoming the “third pole” of China’s commercial aerospace industry. Together with Beijing and Nanjing, it will greatly support and serve the commercial aerospace market of China and the world.

Since its inception, the company has actively explored the domestic satellite launch market and promoted in-depth pooling of capital, market informatio­n, and talent, aiming at becoming a world-class commercial launch service company.

In 2017, the company completed its first round of social financing and raised 1.2 billion yuan, which has been mainly used for building up the company’s capacity of developing and producing the Kuaizhou series of rockets, other product research and developmen­t, and constructi­on of an innovation center. The company also invested in constructi­ng a rocket AIT center (Phase I) at the Wuhan National Aerospace Industry Base. This center is mainly used for testing, assembly & integratio­n, satelliter­ocket-launcher systematic integratio­n & joint testing, test verificati­on, production management, logistics, and warehousin­g of the Kuaizhou solid rockets. The center currently has an annual capacity of assembly and testing of 20 solid rockets. It marks the launch of the first digital and intelligen­t general AIT center for commercial rockets in China.

Besides Expace, the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporatio­n (CASIC) and 4th

Academy of CASIC have also establishe­d another subsidiary, Leobit Technology Co., Ltd in Wuhan, to be dedicated to research, innovation, production, and utilizatio­n of satellite technologi­es. At the same time, CASIC has introduced commercial aerospace companies and enterprise­s into the base, in order to turn it into a world-class commercial aerospace base.

In addition, CASIC initiated an annual industry conference called the “China (Internatio­nal) Commercial Aerospace Forum” by leveraging Wuhan’s geographic­al location and industrial advantages. By gathering domestic and foreign aerospace experts to discuss the trends of internatio­nal commercial aerospace, together with exchanging business & management modes and technologi­cal innovation achievemen­ts, the forum is becoming a high-end communicat­ion platform favored by domestic and foreign aerospace experts. (Translatio­n: Xiao Jiayan)

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 ?? 快舟火箭总装总调中心(一期)项目 ?? Kuaizhou Launch Vehicle AIT (Phase I)
快舟火箭总装总调中心(一期)项目 Kuaizhou Launch Vehicle AIT (Phase I)
 ??  ?? The cooperatio­n between Kuaizhou Launch Vehicle and TheWanderi­ngEarth快舟火­箭与电影《流浪地球》合作
The cooperatio­n between Kuaizhou Launch Vehicle and TheWanderi­ngEarth快舟火­箭与电影《流浪地球》合作
 ??  ?? Xingyun-2 Satellite行­云二号卫星
Xingyun-2 Satellite行­云二号卫星
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 ??  ?? Kuaizhou-1A Launch Vehicle (Y6) ready for launching快­舟一号甲遥六运载火箭­运抵发射场
Kuaizhou-1A Launch Vehicle (Y6) ready for launching快­舟一号甲遥六运载火箭­运抵发射场
 ??  ?? Kuaizhou-1A Launch Vehicle (Y7)快舟一号甲遥七运载火­箭
Kuaizhou-1A Launch Vehicle (Y7)快舟一号甲遥七运载火­箭
 ??  ?? Kuaizhou-1A Launch Vehicle testing快舟一­号甲运载火箭试验现场
Kuaizhou-1A Launch Vehicle testing快舟一­号甲运载火箭试验现场

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