By Dong Bijuan
As regards the status quo of China's commercial space industry, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has undertaken major national special tasks of manned space flight and lunar exploration program, Beidou navigation system, high-resolution earth observation system and new-generation launcher. Sun Weigang, chief engineer of CASC, said that "The CZ series launchers mainly developed by CASC have witnessed 235 times of launching with a success rate of 95 percent, winning the reputation of highly stable rocket launching for China. At present, more than 10 countries have carried out 54 times of international commercial launching."
"For many years, CASC has undertaken many international launching services, implemented whole-spacecraft export and gradually developed the whole-industrial chain development mode of rock provision, launcher manufacturing and launching, ground system construction and operation services", said Sun. The successful launching of "Asia I" satellite by CZ-3 on April 7, 1990 marked the formal entering of China's launching service into the international market. On May 14, 2007, CZ-3B launched NigComSat-1 successfully in Xichang, marking the successful international in-orbit delivery of whole spaceflight. On September 29, 2012, CZ-2D launched VRSS-1 in Jiuquan and exported China's remote sensing satellite for the first time by plant establishment through local cooperation and provision of technical consulting services.
"As the aerospace science and technology industry develops, the domestic market is seeing increasingly active demand, which also becomes the direction for CZ series launchers to expand market." Sun said that CASC has made strenuous efforts to expand the remote sensing field of commercial satellite and the "16+4+4+X"service of commercial remote sensing satellite was unveiled in 2015. By the end of the year, two satellites will be launched and China's first world-class commercial remote sensing satellite constellation with the spatial resolution of 0.5m constructed. In the middle of 2017, another two satellites with one rocker of the same model will be deployed. Then, China will provide high-quality remote sensing satellite data and value-added services for domestic and foreign customers.
"While safeguarding the major national tasks, CASC will make the best efforts to provide carrying launching." Sun said that the new-generation launcher CZ-6 and CZ-11 carried the microsatellite developed by many universities and scientific research institutions, such as National University of Defense Technology, Tsinghua University, Zhejiang University and Harbin Institute of Technology to carry out various new technology tests in the space field. CZ series launchers also successfully launched "Wu Kong" Dark Matter Particle Explorer, "Mozi" Quantum Communications Test Satellite and JL-I Commercial Remote Sensing Satellite. "Meanwhile, CASC has made proactive efforts in exploring the new mode of "design by universities + manufacturing by enterprises", fully ensuring the production progress and quality of microsatellite and making quality resources and capability serve the society to the greatest extent", said Sun.
At present, China has developed the type spectrum of in-service launchers, including conventional launchers and CZ-6 and CZ-11 with rapid flexible launching capacity, which can realize launching of single satellite, multiple satellites and carrying launching. Currently, CZ-2, 3 and 4 are the major rockets in service and have completed most of the launching of 235 times. "The one-vehicle-with-multi-satellite capability of these rockets is rather suitable for rapid deployment of small satellite constellation at present and shows great price advantages and provides great amount of reliable carrying launching opportunities on the basis of highly reliable launching."
Targeted at the increasingly diversified features of the market demands, CASC has carried out the development of new generation of rockets. For instance, to satisfy the demands in going green and environmental protection, sustainable development and small satellite launching of repaid response, CASC has launched the small and low-cost launchers represented by CZ-6 and 11.
CZ-6 mainly driven by clean energy of liquid oxygen/kerosene is established on launching of small and medium-sized satellites and launching on middle and low earth orbits, and can launch several satellites and realize launching of networking constellation and patching. It is also adaptive to launching of simple facilities and can realize 7-day launching. In September 2015, the maiden flight of CZ-6 and sending 20 rockets into the space created the new record of launching by one vehicle with multi satellites. CZ-11 is China's first universal solid launcher, can adapt to launching on simple flat fixed platform and cold launching of mobile firing platform and is also designed with rapid launching capability and less than 24h response time. It is the launcher with the largest solid carrying capacity, fastest response, best universality and the most convenient usage.
Meanwhile, CZ-7 targeted at the launching service market of medium-sized satellite completed its maiden flight in Wenchang, Hainan on June 25 this year. CZ-7 is the fundamental form of the new generation of medium-sized launcher and is driven by liquid oxygen/kerosene propellant, thus being non-poisonous and pollution-free. Meanwhile, the fuel cost for propelling the rocket is greatly reduced. Besides, the rain-proof and wind-resistance capacity of CZ-7 also surpasses that of all rockets in service currently, laying a solid foundation for guaranteeing the success rate of launching in harsh environments.
"As the new-generation launchers are put into service in succession, China's competitiveness in commercial spaceflight launching services is greatly improved, laying a solid foundation for ‘going out’ of China's spaceflight," said Sun. According to information, CZ-5 to complete its maiden flight at the end of this year will have the largest carrying capacity in China at present and its capacity in geostationary transfer orbit and near-earth orbit will be 14t and 25t respectively. The construction of China's spaceport and Beidou Navigation System, Phase III lunar exploration program and the implementation of deep space exploration will all be completed by this series.
According to information, the Guidelines for Implementation of High-end Equipment Innovation Project (2016-2020) have explicitly specified that CZ-8 will be mainly targeted at launching tasks of commercial satellites with international competitiveness. Meanwhile, efforts will be made constantly to further promote the development of 500t liquid oxygen/kerosene engine and sectional-type large solid rocket motors to lay a solid foundation for successful development of heavy launchers. "We will make efforts to construct new and more convenient commercial launching service system and provide one-stop services for customers and rapid, stable and reliable launching services for deployment of various commercial satellites and constellations while completing national tasks", said Sun.