Earlier this morning, iSpace became China’s first privately funded company to launch a rocket into orbit and successfully deploy a payload.
The iSpace Hyperbola-1 launch vehicle lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China at 05:10 UTC (13:10 local time). The 31-metric-ton Hyperbola-1 is a four-stage launch vehicle capable of launching up to 300 kilograms into low Earth orbit. The rocket’s first three stages are solid-fueled while the fourth is liquid-fueled.
Following a successful launch, the rocket’s liquid-fueled upper stage deployed the CAS 7B nanosatellite and four other small payloads (currently unidentified) into a 300-kilometre orbit.
The CAS-7B is a small 3-kilogram nanosatellite developed by the Chinese Amateur Satellite Group and the Beijing Institute of Technology. It is equipped with an FM transponder, CW telemetry beacon and an inflatable balloon that provides passive aerodynamic stabilization. Due to its size, weight, and orbital apogee, the orbital life of the CAS-7B is expected to be approximately one week with a maximum orbital life of one month.
iSpace’s success comes on the back of two failures from privately funded Chinese launch providers. In October last year, the maiden launch of the LandSpace Zhuque-1 failed after the rocket’s upper stage underperformed. In March this year, OneSpace suffered a similar fate with the maiden launch of the company’s four-stage OS-M1 rocket. iSpace, as a result, seems to have gained a clear advantage in the Chinese launch market with this morning’s success.