Chinese pseudo-company launches first satellite

The new colonial movement: The pseudo-private Chinese company Galactic Energy today successfully completed its first orbital launch, placing a small satellite into orbit using its Ceres-1 rocket.

Galactic Energy is the fourth Chinese private launch company overall to make an orbital launch attempt, all with light-lift solid launchers. Landspace made the first attempt in October 2018, with OneSpace following in March 2019. In July last year iSpace became the first to successfully achieve orbit with its Hyperbola-1 launch.

The 19-meter-long, 1.4-meter-diameter Ceres-1 can loft 350 kilograms to low Earth orbit or 230 kilograms to a 700-kilometer SOO. It consists of three solid stages and an advanced liquid upper stage. [emphasis mine]

That all of these companies are using solid rockets explains why I call them “pseudo private.” They might be raising independent venture capital money to fund their operations, and they might be aimed at earning a profit, but solid rocket technology is always the primary technology used for military missiles, and none of these Chinese companies could do anything without the close and very firm permission and supervision of the Chinese communist government. In fact, their very existence is likely because that Chinese communist government wants them to exist.

Nonetheless, this launch raises China’s launch capabilities. The leaders in the 2020 launch race:

29 China
19 SpaceX
12 Russia
4 ULA
4 Europe (Arianespace)
4 Rocket Lab

The U.S. is still ahead of China, 30 to 29, in the national rankings.