Space Technology

Space Pioneer, a Chinese rocket firm, has received significant finance ahead of its first launch

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.

Space Technology

Tianzhou-2 cargo carrier has landed in Wenchang to prepare for space station launch

On April 12, 2021, the China Manned Space Engineering Office announced that the Long March 7 space vehicle has landed alongside the Tianzhou-2 cargo spacecraft. The cargo transporter will carry the supplies for the upcoming space station launch. The Asian country bred the idea of building a space station in 1992 and the three-module orbital facility might be up and running by 2022. The core space station will be launched first by Tianhe spacecraft abode Long March 5B rocket and is expected to go live towards the end of this month.

The Long March 7 will be assembled at Wenchang to prepare it for the Tianzhou-2 launch. The space vehicle uses kerosene and liquid oxygen fuel and is set to be ready before the end of May. Tianzhou -2 will ride on the rocket to provide Tianhe with fuel to maintain orbital altitude and astronauts’ supplies. Apart from the two modular missions for the space station, China is rolling out other missions this year. The Shenzhou-12 mission will take three astronauts to the Tianhe core to work on the space station development. The Long March 2F rocket will carry the trio towards the end of June.

China plans to complete the three space station modules installation by the end of next year, with over ten launches between now and then. China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) aims to conduct three launches for the three nodules, four launches for crewed missions, and four cargo spacecraft flights. The agency is training astronauts in readiness for the crewed missions. Twelve astronauts will fly to space in four missions. CASC has also instructed that a Long March 2F rocket be prepared, waiting on the Jiuquan spaceport for emergency rescue missions to the space station.

Once the space station is up and running, three astronauts will camp there for six months conducting research. These studies include international projects in astronomy, space medicine, biotechnology, microgravity fluid physics, among others. Although the space station could be expanded in the future to six modules, the sixty-six metric ton facility will first consist of the three modules. It will be orbiting the earth at 340-450 kilometer altitude for a decade. It will be inclined at forty-three degrees to make it easy for launches to the facility to be conducted from the Jiuquan launch site.

When the Long March 5 rocket failed to launch in 2017, China’s dream of starting the space station construction between 2018 and 2019 was crushed. This year, everything is going as planned so far, and the country is still hopeful the station will be complete by 2022. This mission’s success will make China the third country to develop an independent human spaceflight capacity after Russia and the United States.

Space Technology

Space Foundation collaborates with Noosphere Venture Partners for a three-year initiative to support the yearly International Student Art competition

A Colorado-based non-profit organization, Space Foundation, has announced a three-year deal with Noosphere Venture Partners, a California financial services and asset management firm, to support the former’s annual International Student Art Contest. The competition attracts students worldwide who submit their art based on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).

Students aged between three and eighteen years from nations such as Japan, United States, United Arab Emirates, China, India, and Malaysia have participated in this tournament, which kicked off in 2011. This contest equips students with creative and critical thinking skills and allows them to showcase and explore their talents in the space industry. “Space Foundation is grateful and excited to partner with Noosphere to take the International Student Art Contest to its next level of worldwide impact. Blending the arts, sciences, and imagination open up a wellspring of creativity for young people to explore how they see themselves in the global space ecosystem, “said Shelli Brunswick, chief operations officer at Space Foundation.

Noosphere Venture Partners is an asset management company dedicated to space-based initiatives. Through its subsidiary, Firefly Aerospace, the firm has sponsored this year’s International Student Art Contest to promote space and STEM awareness among students and teachers. “Today’s young people are tomorrow’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and leaders. With Noosphere’s support, the International Student Art Contest can celebrate students and inspire even more of them to reach for the stars,” added Brunswick.

Under the leadership of its managing partner, Dr. Max Polyakov, Noosphere Venture is carrying out a Dedicated Research and Education Accelerator Mission (DREAM), a global contest to host academic and educational payloads as rideshare participants on the Firefly’s inaugural mission, the Firefly Alpha spacecraft.

“The goals of the International Art Contest align with the Noosphere theory, initially promoted by celebrated academician Volodymyr Vernadsky, which considers the human mind and knowledge to be driving forces of development and the most valuable resources for the preservation of the planet,” said Dr. Polyakov.

“By instilling younger generations with a love and understanding of space and STEM, humanity will be better equipped to tackle the challenges facing the Earth,” added Polyakov. Parents, guardians, and teachers will help the student submit their artwork online. The winning pieces are displayed at the Space Foundation’s Discovery Center in Colorado and the annual Space Symposium. The best artwork is also posted on the organization’s website and social media pages.

The top 25 winning pieces are selected from the pool of submissions. The best, first runners up and second runners up positions are awarded. The best overall artist receives the Space Foundation Achievement Award. The submission and participation are free.