Chinese Private Space Company Spacety Releases Plans for Small Satellite Development
Spacety was one of China’s first private space companies and has so far been involved in more than 10 space launches.
With the emergence of private space companies that have transformed space-related innovation and activities in countries like the United States, China clearly knew that it needed to act, and in 2014 the government opened its space industry to private companies in 2014, Since this time, hundreds of different companies have sprung up. These companies are developing new rockets, building communications satellites, and are aiming to establish space data services.
Spacety developers working on the Xiaoxiang verification satellite. Image used courtesy of Spacety
Stepping Up Space Plans
This rise in private space-related innovation, therefore, fits in nicely with China’s 2020 space plans, announced earlier this year by Beijing authorities, plans confirm that China wants to send 60 spacecraft into orbit over the course of more than 40 launches, according to details that were released in January.
"This year will continue to see intensive launches," said Shang Zhi, director of the Space Department of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), at a press conference, where a blue book setting out China's space achievements and future missions was released.
According to Shang, there are three major missions, mainly focusing on the completion of the BeiDou-3 Navigation Satellite System, the lunar exploration and the network of Gaofen observation satellites. In addition, two geostationary orbit satellites will be sent up to space in Q1/Q2 and three new types of carrier rocket will make their maiden flight later in the year.
Xinghe, a remote-sensing technology verification satellite jointly developed by Spacety and Adaspace. Image used courtesy of Spacety
Spacety’s Plans for Small Satellite Development
China’s space-related efforts are benefitting hugely from private companies like Spacety, which was one of China’s very first private space companies. Inspired by SpaceX, Spacety makes small satellites and has offices in Beijing and Changsha in central China. In order to pursue private space endeavors, Spacety’s founders left the state-owned Chinese Academy of Sciences in January 2016.
Unlike other satellite start-ups that solely focus on creating their own constellations, Spacety instead offers a complete range of services for small satellites. These include payload hosting, launch, and on-orbit operating, amongst other things. These services allow Spacety’s clients to reach orbit quickly and provide services of their own.
So far, Spacety has been involved in 10 launches that have sent 18 satellites to orbit.
However, Spacety is now starting to develop its own payloads for its satellites, starting with MiniSar, a synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite that weighs 150kg and can create images with a resolution of 1 meter per pixel.
“MiniSar is a challenge to us, because it is our first mini-SAR with high performance. We are implementing many innovative new designs in this satellite, and how to minimize the risks to have a successful mission is a challenge,” says Yang. MiniSAR is scheduled for launch in the third quarter of 2020.
Spacety has several missions planned for this year, most of which are due to take place in the second half of 2020, and now seeks to expand its engagement with European firms.