The first private rocket launch in China happened on May 16, with the maiden flight of OneSpace Technologies' OS-X rocket reaching an altitude of 127,000 feet.
The successful test flight places OneSpace on the same path as SpaceX, the private space company founded and helmed by Elon Musk.
OneSpace OS-X Rocket Successful Maiden Test Flight
OneSpace became the first among private space companies in China to launch a rocket. OneSpace CEO Shu Chang said in an interview with CNN Money that the rocket is the first one to be developed and built entirely using homegrown technology.
The OneSpace OS-X rocket reportedly reached a height of 127,000 feet, or about 25 miles, in its maiden test flight, with a top speed that is over 5.7 times the speed of sound.
The OS-X rocket is a 29.5-foot solid-fueled single-stage rocket with a weight of about 7.2 metric tons. The rocket is capable of travelling for around five minutes, but its payload capacity is only 220 pounds, compared to the capacity of over 50,000 pounds for the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
OneSpace was established in 2015, a year after the government of China allowed private capital to make investments in the space industry. OneSpace is the first private company with the license to develop Chinese space rockets.
OneSpace Follows Footsteps Of SpaceX
Chang said that OneSpace aims to become one of the largest companies in the world for launching small satellites into space, a lofty ambition that already places it on track to become the SpaceX of China.
"OneSpace's situation right now is very much like where SpaceX stood in its early years. SpaceX is the first in the US. We're the first in China," said Chang.
OneSpace is emulating SpaceX through its business model that falls in between being run as a private company and funded by the government. SpaceX is a private company that has benefitted from several NASA contracts, and OneSpace will look to do the same for the Chinese government. Missions that OneSpace may handle in the future may include the likes of the Chang'e 4's relay satellite launch, which looks to study the far side of the moon.
OneSpace, however, will face a lot of competition in the private space flight industry for small satellite launches. In addition, there are more private space companies in China that will soon be testing their own rockets. Therefore, it remains to be seen whether OneSpace will see the same amount of success in China as SpaceX has experienced in the United States.