A new contender has emerged in the global space race, as Chinese startup Orienspace successfully launched its first rocket from the Yellow Sea.
The move marks a significant step forward for China’s ambitions to become a major player in space exploration and intensifies ongoing competition with established players like Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
The mid-sized rocket, Gravity-1, blasted off from a ship near the coastal city of Haiyang today (11 January), carrying three satellites into orbit.
This launch marks the ninth time China has used a sea-based platform, solidifying its position as the only major spacefaring nation heavily invested in offshore missions.
The three satellites aboard Gravity-1, developed by Chang Guang Satellite Technology Company, will play a crucial role in meteorological analysis, weather forecasting, and disaster warning efforts.
The company, founded in 2020, has already attracted significant investment, raising around $150m from firms including Sequoia China and Matrix Partners China.
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Orienspace joins the likes of China’s Galactic Energy Aerospace Technology Company and the state-owned China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology in pushing the boundaries of China’s space program.
In 2022, the space economy was valued at approximately $450bn by research company GlobalData which predicts it could be worth between $760bn and $1trn by 2030.
GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence: Space Economy 2023 report found that the industry had seen a recent influx of startups and privately owned companies. Investor interest, clear market gaps and technological advancements were the main factors credited to this.