Orienspace, a Chinese launch vehicle developer, has secured $59.9 million in a funding round of Series A, which it plans to use to launch its first rocket and develop additional engines. As per a company press statement (Chinese) dated May 20, HikeCapital led the fresh round, followed by CMBC Int’l Holdings and others, comprising existing investors. The funding will be used to develop and test the “Gravity-1” medium-lift launch vehicle, having a test flight scheduled for mid-2023.
Gravity-1 is going to be 31.4 meters long, having a 4.2-meter diameter fairing and a 400 metric ton takeoff mass. A liquid propellant core stage is going to be used, as well as 4 solid-propellant boosters. This would be the biggest-capacity launcher in China’s burgeoning commercial space sector, capable of lifting roughly 6,500 kilograms of payload into low Earth orbit (LEO) or 3,700 kilograms into 700-kilometer SSO (sun-synchronous orbit).
The money will also go toward developing a reusable kerosene-liquid oxygen rocket engine with a 100-ton thrust for the Gravity-2 launcher. The company claims it will adhere to the overall principle of iterative as well as systematic innovation.
Orienspace was created in late 2020 with a $65 million initial investment. It stated in January that it had raised an additional $47 million. Despite its newbie status, the fresh round places the company among the finest financed Chinese launch startups. Last month, CMBC Int’l Holdings led an A+ round of financing for Deep Blue Aerospace, another launch company that executed a kilometer-level rocket vertical landing and vertical takeoff test on May 6.
The funding follows plenty of major financing rounds for the Chinese launch startups in early 2022, including Galactic Energy’s $200 million announcements in January, which set a new Chinese record for launch firms. Around the end of the year, Orienspace plans to start using a commercial launch vehicle final assembly as well as integration test site in Haiyang, Shandong province, China.
The Haiyang spaceport was built to facilitate water launches, and it recently held the third Long 11th March solid rocket sea deployment for the first time, utilizing a new, close-by final assembly and test facility. Galactic Energy, iSpace, Landspace, and others, comprising Deep Blue Aerospace, and Space Pioneer will compete for commercial deals and prospects anticipated from a national satellite internet megaconstellation of 13,000 satellites plus future commercial solutions to the Chinese space station, which is now under construction.
China’s Long March rocket series is operated by the CASC (China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation), which also executes the vast bulk of the country’s civil and military launches. In 2022, CASC plans around 50 launches, comprising six space station-linked missions.
Via a military-civil fusion national strategy, China has been cultivating a commercial space industry since late 2014, establishing the sector for private finance and providing incentives, regulatory support, and technology transfer.