China-owned firms are set to launch commercial rockets. As part of the commercial space plan, CASIC, the Chinese contractor of defense is planning to launch a new propellant launch vehicle this year. These commercial launch vehicles aim to provide fast and low cost entry to space.
As per the Chinese news website 3SNews, the debut launch of Kuaizhou-11 will contain 6 satellites. This rocket will possess a mass of 78 metric tons and will be able to lift 1000 kilograms to 700 kilometer SSO or 1500 kilograms to 400 kilometer low orbit of Earth. It will use 2.2 or 2.6 meter fairings which will make it the biggest Chinese propellant launch vehicle.
The Chinese media had stated that this new rocket will be ready for test flight in 2018 which has now been extended to 2019. China has not released any statement for reasons of delays. The Kuaizhou-11 will be launched from Transporter Erector Launcher. It is likely to be launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center that is run by the People’s Liberation Army. CASIC had earlier released statements that claimed that the cost of launching this Kuaizhou series will be between $10,000 and $20,000 for each kilogram. They said that they expect the cost to be $5,000 for each kilogram. Currently CASIC launches only commercial payloads.
In December CASIC launched its first satellite for the 156 satellite Hongyun on the low orbit on Earth wideband communications constellation. It is also aiming to launch an 80-satellite narrowband constellation for Internet of Things connectivity named Xingyun and also a Tengyun project which will develop a space plane that will be reused.
One of the main contractors for the space program of China and a sister company of CASIC, China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, undertakes the government and military missions of China using its launch vehicles.