China's Private 'Smart Dragon-1' Rocket Aces 1st Mission

Space.com | 8/17/2019 | Mike Wall
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China's commercial launch industry is really getting off the ground.

The private Smart Dragon-1 rocket, built by the China Rocket Co. Ltd., completed its first mission Saturday (Aug. 17), successfully launching three small satellites to Earth orbit, Chinese media outlets reported.

Milestone - Month - Company - ISpace - Nation

The milestone comes less than a month after a different Chinese company, iSpace, achieved the nation's first private orbital launch and just a week after yet another firm, LinkSpace, pulled off a rocket landing after a test flight in Earth's atmosphere.

China's private Smart Dragon-1 rocket launches its first orbital mission on Aug. 17, 2019.

Smart - Dragon-1 - Size - Power - Electron

The four-stage Smart Dragon-1 is similar in size and payload-launching power to Electron, the two-stage booster built by California-based company Rocket Lab. The Chinese launcher, also known as Jielong-1, is 64 feet (19.5 meters) tall and 4 feet (1.2 m) wide, and it weighs 25.5 tons (23.1 metric tons) at liftoff. The rocket can deliver about 440 lbs. (200 kilograms) of payload to a 310-mile-high (500 kilometers), sun-synchronous orbit, according to China's state-run Xinhua news service.

China Rocket isn't a purely private outfit. The company is a subsidiary of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), which itself is part of the state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC). CASC is China's main aerospace contractor, and CALT has built most of China's venerable Long March rockets over the years.

China - Rocket - Existence - Nation - Push

Still, China Rocket's existence continues the nation's push to develop a native commercial-launch sector.

"Commercial launching will have a vast market...
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