Space exploration is seeing a massive push from China as a number of startups in the country are in preparations to take on industry leaders like Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Jeff Bezos’s Blue Origin LLC head on for a significant share in the space market.
The proposition is a risky one, as there are a number of complex technical challenges that are associated with the business. However, with 80 Chinese startups entering the race in space technology, experts estimate that the increased completion will result in more successes than failures. Most of these new businesses are emphasizing on satellite and software related applications. A few are developing launch vehicles that are anticipated to provide a stiff competition to private outfits such as SpaceX for commercial space contracts.
With no significant sign of space-related business in the past 10 years of Chinese history, the country has come a long way at a rapid clip, displaying a very strong private sector of the country. The country opened its space business to private players in the year 2014, to tap into the lucrative opportunities being presented by the worldwide sector of commercial space technology worth more than 300 billion in the last year alone.
In addition the Chinese government has a very ambitious program for space exploration in the coming months including an unmanned lunar landing in December and a lander for Mars in the year 2020. The same year will also see the launch of the Chinese BeiDou satellite based navigation system, which is anticipated to act as direct completion to the U.S. built Global Positioning System.
After the recent rocket launch failure of Landspace Technology Corp., Other developers such as One Space are anticipated to take up the challenge later this year, and through next year as well. Landspace and One Space have already managed to gather approximately $72 million and $116 million respectively through local governments and private investors. Most of these space startups have some sort of government involvement, even if it is only in the form of monetary investments.
Landspace is developing a large size rocket that will be capable of 4 tons, which is nearly as much as SpaceX’s Falcon 9, at only a fraction of the price. The Chinese space market is anticipated to face some tough challenges on the business aspect as well. The Chinese space sector is facing stiff completion from other developing nations including India, China, UAE, and Brazil. In addition, the U.S. restricts Chinese companies from launching satellites that use U.S. produced parts, which is anticipated to act as a major constraint. China is anticipated to counter this through acquiring cost-effective contracts in Europe, especially with clients in the telecommunication and media sectors to create a new market.