Chinese Satellite Industry’s Private Firms Making Significant Developments

A scale model of an Airbus OneWeb satellite and its solar panel are pictured as Airbus announces annual results in Blagnac, near Toulouse, France February 14, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Regis Duvignau)

Local private-owned enterprises are stepping up their game in China's satellite market as the space sector entices competition among potential startups.

According to China Daily, the country's satellite industry has been opening doors for private firms interested in improving the Chinese space sector. Previously, state-owned companies dominated the sector but an increasing number of private players could overturn the current setup.

A senior industry expert who works for a Beijing-based satellite startup told the outlet that over 90 local startups that focus on satellite and rocket projects have seen developments in the industry over the past couple of years.

The expert, who requested anonymity, explained that activity in new companies indicates that at least two firms were established in the past four years on a monthly basis. "It is significant if China is to grab a slice of the cake from the global competition in the budding space industry," he pointed out.

While the Asian country only makes up around three to five percent of the global space market, it is starting to gain traction in technology and scale, which are pivotal factors that drive a satellite or space company's development.

China's National Development and Reform Commission has shown support for budding private companies that show potential in the space sector. In partnership with the Ministry of Finance and the State Administration of Science, Technology, and Industry for National Defense, the commission released a 10-year plan that aims to encourage the country's commercial space sector.

Last year was golden for some of China's private satellite firms. Guoxing Yuhang Co Ltd. (ADA Space), a Chengdu-based private company, launched two satellites into space. The satellites are powered by artificial intelligence (AI) technology.

Tech and gaming giant Tencent also helped boost the satellite industry through its investment in Moon Express. While the company is American, analysts believe the investment made by one of China's leading tech giants will help promote Chinese satellite companies.

Meanwhile, China marked the 300th "Long March" rocket mission on Sunday with the unveiling of a new communication satellite launched from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province.

Dubbed as the ChinaSat 6C, the satellite will provide TV and radio transmission services to for the Chinese community, Aerospace reported. The satellite will also cover other areas outside of China including New Zealand and Australia.

ChinaSat 6C was developed by the China Academy of Space Technology but will operate under China Satellite Communications Co., Ltd. The latest development is expected to encourage startups to further explore projects that should help bolster the Chinese market.

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