i-Space (Chinese company)

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i-Space
TypePrivate
Industryaerospace
Founded2016
Headquarters,
China
ProductsLaunch service provider
Websitewww.i-space.com.cn

i-Space[1] (Chinese: 星际荣耀; pinyin: xīngjì róngyào; lit. 'Interstellar Glory')—also known as Space Honor,[2] Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology Ltd.,[3] Interstellar Glory[4] or StarCraft Glory[5]—is a Chinese private space technology development and space launch company based in Beijing, founded in October 2016.

The company is developing two-stage small satellite orbital launchers based on solid propellant rocket engines procured from major Chinese government supplier China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CAST).[5]

In July 2019, i-Space successfully launched the Hyperbola-1 and reached low Earth orbit on its maiden flight, becoming the first private company from China to achieve orbit.[6] A second launch of the Hyperbola-1 in February 2021 failed to reach orbit,[7] as did the third attempt in August 2021[8] and the fourth in May 2022.

History[edit]

The company was founded in 2016.[citation needed]

By 2019, i-Space had successfully launched the Hyperbola-1S and Hyberbola-1Z single-stage solid-propellant test rockets into space on suborbital test flights,[2][9] and then reached low Earth orbit with Hyperbola-1 on its maiden flight on 25 July 2019, becoming the first private company from China to have achieved orbit.[6]

The company raised US$173 million in private capital in a series B round during 2020.[10]

Rockets[edit]

Suborbital rockets: Hyperbola-1S and Hyberbola-1Z[edit]

The Hyperbola-1S (also called SQX-1S),[11] and the Hyperbola-1Z (also called SQX-1Z),[12] are single stage, solid-propellant suborbital test rockets. The Hyperbola-1S rocket was 8.4 m (28 ft) long, with a diameter of 1 m (3 ft 3 in) and weighed 4.6 t (5.1 tons). The Hyperbola-1Z rocket has a diameter of about 1.4 m (4 ft 7 in), maximum design speed of 1.6 km/s (0.99 mi/s) and can reach altitude of 175 km (109 mi) on a suborbital trajectory.[11]

The first sub-orbital test flight of Hyperbola-1S took place from Hainan island on 5 April 2018 to an altitude of 108 km (67 mi).[13][9][5]

The second flight of i-Space was a commercial sub-orbital flight launched on 5 September 2018 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi desert, using the Hyperbola-1Z rocket. The sub-orbital flight reached an altitude of 108 km (67 mi) and a peak velocity of over 1,200 m/s (3,900 ft/s).[14] It carried payloads from private Chinese satellite companies ZeroG Labs and ADA-space. The rocket delivered three CubeSat satellites one of which subsequently parachuted back to Earth.[15]

Hyperbola-1[edit]

The Hyperbola-1 (aka Shuang Quxian-1, SQX-1) (Chinese: 双曲线一号) rocket is 20.8 m (68 ft) tall, 1.4 m (4 ft 7 in) in diameter and weighs 31 t (34 tons). It consists of four all solid fuel stages, guided by liquid fuel attitude control engines.[16] It can launch 300 kg (660 lb) into low Earth orbit (LEO).[14] The rocket might be based on Chinese military missiles (perhaps DF-11 or DF-15).[17][18] The first stage of the rocket is equipped with four grid fins.[16][19] The launch price is reported around US$5 million.[20]

Its successful maiden flight was on 25 July 2019, at 05:00 UTC from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.[6][17] It launched from a movable supporting platform.[20] It placed numerous payloads,[21] among them the CAS-7B amateur radio satellite,[22] into orbit 300 km (190 mi) above Earth. CAS-7B decayed from orbit 6 August 2019.[23] It was the first Chinese private company to achieve orbit (orbital launches of other private companies before had failed).[18]

A second launch occurred on 1 February 2021, at 08:15 UTC (16:15 Beijing Time) from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center with 6 unidentified satellites but failed to reach orbit.[7] A subsequent investigation revealed that a piece of insulation had broken off and got stuck in the turning mechanism of grid fin Number IV. When the piece was blown away, the control system then suddenly overcompensated, resulting in the rocket being ripped apart by excessive aerodynamic forces.[24][19] The rocket was named "Tianshu" because its outer fuselage was covered with the artistic creations (images of compound made-up Chinese characters) of the contemporary artist Xu Bing.[7]

iSpace launched a third Hyperbola-1 solid-rocket vehicle on 3 August 2021.[10] SpaceNews was reporting the same day that the outcome of the launch was unknown, but that amateur video of the launch had been posted, but then deleted from Chinese social media.[10] After most of the day had passed, the Chinese official media Xinhua reported that the launch was unsuccessful due to off-nominal performance of the rocket which resulted in a failure to achieve orbit.[8] An official statement released by the company itself the following day clarified that the failure was caused by a malfunctioning in the fairing separation process, that precluded the payload from reaching the target orbit.[25]

A fourth launch attempt on May 13th 2022 was unsuccessful as well.[19]

Flight number Serial number Date (UTC) Launch site Payload Orbit Result
1 Y1 25 July 2019
05:00
LA-4, JSLC CAS-7B
undisclosed payloads
LEO Success
2 Y2 1 February 2021
08:15
LA-4, JSLC undisclosed payloads SSO Failure
3 Y5 3 August 2021
07:39
LA-4, JSLC Jilin-1 Mofang-01A SSO Failure
4 Y4 13 May 2022
07:09
LA-4, JSLC Jilin-1 Mofang-01A SSO Failure

Hyperbola-2[edit]

The Hyperbola-2 (Chinese: 双曲线二号) is a two-stage, liquid-fueled, reusable rocket designed to be able lift 1.9 tons into LEO. It uses liquid oxygen and methane as fuel. The first stage is expected to land propulsively in order to be reused.[16] The JD-1 engine made its first hot fire test in May 2020.[26] As of July 2022, the first launch is expected to occur in 2023 following a series of first stage hop tests.[27]

Other developments[edit]

In May 2018, i-Space indicated they hoped to eventually develop a reusable sub-orbital spaceplane (Chinese: 亚轨道概念飞行器) for space tourism.[12][28]

Marketplace[edit]

i-Space is in competition with several other Chinese solid rocket startups, being LandSpace, Galactic Energy, ExPace, LinkSpace, OneSpace and Deep Blue Aerospace.[29]

See also[edit]

  • OneSpace, a Chinese company competitor
  • Space Pioneer, a Chinese competitor privately developing liquid rocket engine technology and launch vehicles

References[edit]

  1. ^ "北京星际荣耀空间科技有限公司" [Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology Company Ltd.] (in Chinese). i-Space. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  2. ^ a b Jones, Andrew (15 May 2018). "Chinese commercial launch sector nears takeoff with suborbital rocket test". SpaceNews. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  3. ^ Jones, Andrew (14 April 2020). "Space Pioneer raises $14 million to develop green liquid rocket engines". SpaceNews. Retrieved 27 July 2021.
  4. ^ Space News
  5. ^ a b c "StarCraft Glory - Hyperbola". GlobalSecurity.org. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  6. ^ a b c "A private Chinese space firm successfully launched a rocket into orbit". 25 July 2019.
  7. ^ a b c "Chinese Hyperbola-1 rocket fails during its second launch". NASASpaceFlight.com. 1 February 2021. Retrieved 11 July 2021.
  8. ^ a b Huaxia (3 August 2021). "Flight test of China's commercial carrier rocket fails". Xinhua. Retrieved 3 August 2021.
  9. ^ a b Goh, Deyana (7 September 2018). "Chinese government launch site conducts first 2 commercial launches". Spacetech Asia. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  10. ^ a b c Mystery surrounds Chinese private rocket launch attempt, Andrew Jones, SpaceNews, 3 August 2021.
  11. ^ a b Nowakowski, Tomasz (6 September 2018). "Chinese startup launches three CubeSats into space". SpaceFlight Insider. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  12. ^ a b Sheldon, John (6 September 2018). "China's iSpace Successfully Launches SQX-1Z Sub-Orbital Rocket With CubeSats". SpaceWatch.Global. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  13. ^ Palec, Phenny Lynn (7 May 2019). "China's i-Space Attempts Private Orbital Launch In June". Business Times. Archived from the original on 1 July 2019. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  14. ^ a b ""双曲线一号S火箭"首飞成功!星际荣耀近期型谱计划出炉!(The Hyperbola 1-S Rocket Made Its First Flight Successfully! Interstellar Glory releases its future plans)". spaceflightfans.cn (in Chinese (China)). Archived from the original on 8 April 2018. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  15. ^ Lei, Zhao (5 September 2018). "Chinese private company launches satellites". China Daily. Retrieved 7 September 2018.
  16. ^ a b c "Products & Services". i-space.com.cn. Retrieved 28 July 2020.
  17. ^ a b "Shian Quxian-1 (SQX-1, Hyperbola-1)". Retrieved 25 July 2019.
  18. ^ a b Clark, Stephen (25 July 2019). "Chinese private company reaches orbit for first time". Spaceflight Now. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  19. ^ a b c "Hyperbola-1, China's first privately-owned rocket, fails in 2nd consecutive return to flight mission". 13 May 2022.
  20. ^ a b "Chinese Private-Sector Company Launches a History-Making Rocket by MatthewGreenwood".
  21. ^ "Chinese commercial launch firm iSpace launches cubesats on its Hyperbola-1 rocket". 25 July 2019.
  22. ^ "CAS-7B to launch July 25". AMSAT-UK. 8 July 2019. Retrieved 19 July 2019.
  23. ^ "CAS 7B". N2YO.com. Retrieved 12 August 2019.
  24. ^ 双曲线一号遥二运载火箭飞行故障完成归零 [The flight failure of the Hyperbola-1 Yao-2 launch vehicle has been traced to its roots].
  25. ^ "关于双曲线一号遥五运载火箭飞行试验任务情况的说明" [Explanation on the flight test mission of the Hyperbola-1 Y5 carrier rocket]. i-Space (in Chinese). 4 August 2021. Retrieved 4 August 2021.
  26. ^ Jones, Andrew (5 June 2020). "Chinese private launch firms advance with methane engines, launch preparations and new funding". SpaceNews. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  27. ^ Jones, Andrew (6 July 2022). "New launch vehicles set for test flights from China's Jiuquan spaceport". SpaceNews. Retrieved 8 July 2022.
  28. ^ "PRODUCT". en.i-space.com.cn. Archived from the original on 1 August 2020. Retrieved 30 May 2018.
  29. ^ Doug Messier (20 December 2017). "EXPACE Raises US$182 Million for Small Satellite Launchers". Parabolic Arc.