Beijing: China on Thursday launched its first privately developed rocket which travels 5.7 times faster than the speed of sound, marking an important milestone in the country's aerospace sector.
China launches 1st rocket made by private firm
"Chongqing Liangjiang Star," which was launched this morning was developed by OneSpace, a Beijing-based private company with a manufacturing base in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality.
The nine-meter-long, 7,200-kg rocket has a maximum altitude of 38.742 km and a top speed of more than 5.7 times the speed of sound, said Shu Chang, founder and CEO of OneSpace.
Powered by a solid fuel engine developed by OneSpace, the rocket can travel for around 5 minutes, or 273 kms and its control system can be customised to meet customer demands, state-run Xinhua news agency quoted Shu as saying.
The rocket is also equipped with wireless communication devices and low-cost energy sources which allow the design of rocket systems to be simplified, according to Shu.
"This is the first commercial rocket developed by our company," he said.
OneSpace, a Chinese start-up is one of several firms vying for a slice of the global space industry, estimated to be worth about USD 339 billion by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. US firms SpaceX and Blue Origin dominate the sector at present.
The Chinese rocket was launched for OneSpace's customer Shenyang Aircraft Design Institute under Aviation Industry Corporation of China Ltd.
In 2014, China issued a series of guidelines allowing private capital to enter into several key fields, including commercial aerospace exploration.
Established in August 2015, OneSpace is China's first private company with a license to develop carrier rockets. The company has two rocket series, the OS-X and the OS-M.
The former offers aerospace services for scientific research while the later will be used to launch small satellites.
"Our focus is on the small satellite market," said Shu, adding that many countries have a demand for satellite launches, but few are capable of making rockets. "Commercial rockets are relatively more efficient and cheaper. We see great potential," he said.