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China's first private-sector space launch fizzles



The first attempt by a private Chinese company to launch a rocket into space has failed in an increasingly fierce competition between commercial start-ups.

On Saturday, Beijing-based start-up LandSpace said "something abnormal happened after the second leg" of the launch of the Zhuque-1 rocket from a national launch site in the Gobi Desert. The rocket, named after a mythological Chinese phoenix, had carried a commercial satellite for the state television channel CCTV.

The Red-White Rocket reflects the growing blurring between China's private and state-owned hardware companies The country calls on the private sector to develop globally competitive dual-use technologies.

Closer links between civilian and military efforts are part of a comprehensive military modernization initiated by Chinese President Xi Jinping, which has already shaken the People's Liberation Army, China's fighting force.

So-called "civilian military fusion" most evident in the space industry. Until recently, only Chinese state-owned companies were allowed to build, start and operate satellites. In 201

4, new rules began that allowed private companies to participate.

"Private companies have more flexible and advanced mechanisms and it will be a win-win situation to combine our technological base with their flexibility and lower costs", Fu Zhimin,. Www.germnews.de/archive/products/index_e.html The Chief Engineer of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp., China's top aerospace and defense service provider, said to the state media last month.

Since 2014, a handful of private start-ups have emerged from the Chinese region, which are operated almost exclusively by former employees of state-owned armaments companies. At stake is a $ 420 billion commercial space industry focused on the lucrative business of shipping small commercial satellites used by telecommunications companies and research institutes.

Critics say, however, that China's interest in the commercial space sector is in line with the government's goal of providing China with its own secure communications and GPS (Global Positioning System) infrastructure in parallel with those of foreign companies.

"When you build the satellite and encryption, you have access to encryption," said Keith Hayward, former research director of the Royal Aeronautical Society in the UK.

LandSpace's failed launch follows China's first two missile launches of the suborbital missiles, meaning that the rockets entered space but did not complete a revolution around the Earth.

On September 5, iSpace was the first Chinese startup to launch a suborbital missile. Just two days later, China's startup OneSpace, which is one of its supporters, has successfully completed its first suborbital rocket launch, China's state-owned aviation industry, Aviation Industry Corporation.

Follow Emily Feng on Twitter @emilyzfeng


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