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This week: US private space firms call for more government support to help compete with China, iSpace gets closer to a reusable rocket, and the Kuaizhou-11 crashes and burns.
Sandra Erwin at SpaceNews reports on an online forum held by the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) on July 9. The topic of discussion was efforts to help American space companies compete with China.
One of the key speakers was David Trulio, a senior official at EXIM. Congress instructed EXIM at the end of 2019 to establish the Program on China and Transformational Exports, which Trulio is in charge of.
‘It’s a crucial mandate that we’re working to operationalize,” said Trulio. The program extends loans to foreign buyers of U.S. goods and services. The law says that loan rates and terms must be competitive with those offered by the People’s Republic of China.
Congress charged Ex-Im to set aside at least 20 percent of the agency’s financing authority — $27 billion out of a total of $135 billion — for this program. Space is one of several industries that were identified as being challenged by Chinese competition.
Apparently one of the subsectors most under threat from Chinese competition is satellite data provision:
…Companies that provide earth imaging data and analytics services are increasingly facing cutthroat competition from Chinese firms, said Robbie Schingler, co-founder and chief strategy officer of Planet, a company that operates the world’s largest constellation of earth observation satellites.
“There is a massive market opportunity to get contracts with governments around the world,” Schingler said. “But we run into challenges with predatory pricing by Chinese backed companies.”
Data providers aren’t the only ones feeling the heat; launch service providers are under pressure as well. Paul Estey, executive vice president at satellite manufacturer Maxar, argued that EXIM should provide financing for US satellites to be launched overseas to compete with financing offered by companies like CGWIC, which is a subsidiary of CASC, a state-owned enterprise:
…China Great Wall Industry Corporation has emerged as a strong competitor in the satellite marketplace, said Estey. “They offer attractive financing that generally includes full financing of the satellite and associated ground equipment, launch and insurance,” he said. “In some deals they allow the satellite operator to repay a 10-plus year loan one or two years after the satellite is launched and starts to generate revenue.”
It’s a fascinating read, so check out the full thing here.
July 7: Satellite company ADASpace raised 150 million RMB (21 million USD) in an A+ funding round that was led by Aplus Capital and Galaxy Holding Group, with participation by New World Strategic, Guangxin Development, Xinjiang Communications Construction Group, Sichuan Health, and Shenzhen Capital Group.
July 8: iSpace had a successful 200-second test of its JD-1 engine. The JD-1 engine is a liquid oxygen-methane engine that weighs 15 tons and has variable thrust, which is key to making it reusable.
July 10: Expace’s Kuaizhou-11 rocket failed on its first launch. The rocket was carrying two satellites: one satellite was owned by social media company Bilibili (mentioned in the June 2 issue of China NewSpace) and built by Chang Guang Satellite, while the other was Beijing Future Navigation’s CentiSpace-1-S2.
Until next time
My name is Cory Fitz and I write the China NewSpace newsletter. To make you smarter about China’s rapidly evolving private space industry, China NewSpace brings you translations of Chinese-language articles, as well as a roundup of links and news.
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