Space Commerce

i-Space Launches SQX-1 Rocket

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
August 8, 2019
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i-Space Launches SQX-1 Rocket
i-Space Launch
China Internet Information Center

When talking about private space programs, most people will think of the visionary American entrepreneur Elon Musk and his Space X. He founded the company aiming to send humans to Mars. Recently, a Chinese private aerospace company, i-Space, successfully launched its own carrier rocket SQX-1 into orbit, giving new momentum to the development of the private aerospace industry.
This is the first successful orbital launch of a commercial rocket carrying multiple satellites by a private Chinese company. It also completed its assigned tasks of advertising in space and sending back footage. Unlike previous rockets developed by state-owned aerospace institutions for major space missions, in the future, private rockets can be used for purposes other than scientific exploration, which will greatly boost development of the domestic aerospace industry.

In recent years, every progress China made in the field has attracted worldwide attention. And the launch of the SQX-1 rocket is no exception. It was reported that Elon Musk also cheered for the launch.

The U.S. commercial rocket industry has developed for nearly 20 years. In contrast, China’s private aerospace sector has only existed for a few years. However, the Chinese mainland is now home to more than 100 private aerospace companies, which have made remarkable achievements in their development. Last year alone, four private sounding rockets were successfully launched from China.

The reason behind the boom is not difficult to discern. From 2014 to 2016, the Chinese government released several policies to encourage private funding of commercial rocket launches, so as to promote fast growth of a commercial aerospace industry, and to step up military-civilian integration in the sector. Because of these preferential policies, more professional personnel, advanced technologies and venture capital have been attracted to the commercial aerospace sector. The current progress should be attributed to preferential government policies, firm public support and a favorable business environment as a whole.

Before the SQX-1 rocket soared aloft, two private carrier rockets were launched in China, but both failed to reach orbit. Yet, the public has remained supportive. This shows the public attitude is tolerant and positive. Meanwhile, this process proves that China’s private aerospace industry is not rushing heedlessly ahead. Every step forward was made after numerous trials, via drawing on experiences from the failures.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. The exploration of outer space is in full swing. China is working hard to catch up in the private aerospace sector. It’s certain that, in the future, the country will play a big role in bringing outer space closer to human beings.

SpaceRef co-founder, Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA, Away Teams, Journalist, Space & Astrobiology, Lapsed climber.