A Chinese government space agency successfully launched on Saturday its first rocket meant for commercial use, state television CCTV reported, as firms in the country compete to join a commercial satellite boom.
Smart Dragon-1 rocket, which weighs 23 tonnes and was developed by a unit of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC), successfully delivered three satellites into orbit after launch in Jiuquan, Gansu, CCTV said.
China envisions constellations of commercial satellites that can offer services ranging from high-speed internet for aircraft to tracking coal shipments. Reliable, low-cost and frequent rocket launches will be key for that.
Smart Dragon-1, whose research and development budget came from social capital rather than state funding, is a demonstration of China's drive to commercialise the rockets sector, where more private rocket firm are allowed to enter the market to compete with each other, CCTV said.
Last month, Beijing-based iSpace became the first private firm to deliver a satellite into orbit on its rocket. Since late last year, two other startups have attempted to launch satellites but have failed.
Smart Dragon-1 rocket, which weighs 23 tonnes and was developed by a unit of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC).