Space Pioneer, a Chinese commercial rocket company, has raised a significant amount of money ahead of reusable “hop” tests and its first orbital launch. Space Pioneer, whose full name is Beijing Tianbing Technology Company, Ltd., announced on July 27 that it had closed the pre-B financing round worth “hundreds of millions of yuan,” or at least $30 million. The funds will be used to launch the Tianlong-1 recyclable kerosene-liquid oxygen deployment vehicle for the first time. The Tianlong-1 rocket has been kept under wraps. Space Pioneer revealed in September 2020 that the first mission vehicle will be capable of carrying over three metric tons to the low Earth orbit. The first flight was expected to occur in 2021, but with the financing announcement, Space Pioneer announced no timeframe for Tianlong-1 launch.
In recent days, Space Pioneer claims to have finished the final assembly of Tiansuo-1 vertical landing and vertical takeoff test stage. Deep Blue Aerospace and iSpace, two other Chinese commercial firms, are also nearing completion of VTVL test stage “hop” tests. In the first half of 2021, Space Pioneer conducted multiple hot-fire tests on the HCP liquid engine that has 30-ton-thrust. Space Pioneer claims it is working on low-cost, high-reliability launch vehicles to meet the needs of China’s national Satellite Internet project, as well as deploying international and domestic commercial satellites and boosting the country’s space economy in general.
It also includes as an objective meeting the requirements of the Chinese Space Station cargo project. In January, China’s human spaceflight agency issued a request for recommendations for the low-cost cargo transportation to support space station operations. China currently supplies the space station core module with Tianzhou cargo spacecraft with 13-metric-ton, launched by Long March 7 rockets. CMSA has been looking for backup choices and smaller, more cost-effective supply missions from both commercial and state-owned companies. The overall goal was to create a cargo transportation system that was “flexible, efficient, diverse, and low-cost.”
A city investment fund by the name Zhangjiagang, private equity firm Jundu Investment, and Zijin Investment leads the newest Space Pioneer funding round. In Zhangjiagang, a Yangtze River port city, Space Pioneer develops large research, production, manufacturing centers. Space Pioneer has completed the sixth round. Previous financing has come from the ZJU Joint Innovation Investment, which is affiliated with Zhejiang University.
In general, national and local investment funds, people, state-owned organizations (SOEs), private venture capital, academic institutions such as the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and banks are viewed as funding sources for Chinese commercial space ventures. Chinese commercial space enterprises have made only one launch attempt in 2021, whereas China’s primary state-owned provider has carried out 23 successful orbital launches. iSpace’s Hyperbola-1 solid rocket failed during its only commercial launch. While CAS Space, Galactic Energy, Expace, and others are preparing for new flights using solid rockets, the company is seeking to return to flying in the near future.