After liftoff, a Kuaizhou-1A solid rocket failed resulting in the loss of two commercial satellites that were being used to test navigation advancement for autonomous driving. According to airspace closure notices, the Kuaizhou-1A light-elevation solid rocket launched from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center situated in Gobi Desert at exactly 9 p.m. Eastern on December 14.

Hours later, Chinese state media affirmed the launch failure, stating flatly that the deployment had failed and that the specific reasons were being investigated. The flight delivered the very first 2 satellites for Geespace, which is a Geely subsidiary. According to previous statements, the pair was meant to test navigation assistance as well as connectivity for autonomous driving.

This failure is a setback for commercial launch service vendor Expace, which is a subsidiary of CASIC (China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation), which is a state-possessed missile and defense contractor. The CASC (China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation), that is the country’s main space contractor and supplier of the Long March rockets, is not affiliated with CASIC.

Expace and CASIC revealed programs for seven deployments in the coming three months for a range of customers at the commercial space forum in late November. The Kuaizhou-1A will almost certainly be grounded until the investigation is completed and the causes are identified and addressed.

Three fruitful Kuaizhou-1A deployments in September, October, and November boosted Expace’s confidence after the Kuaizhou-1A was grounded for a year after a failure in September of 2020.

CASIC and its affiliates are also planning 80-satellite narrowband constellation called Xingyun, with a minimum of 12 Xingyun-2 satellites set to launch in 2022 to complete the three-state constellation. Prior to the previous KZ-1A failure, it stated similar arrangements for the launch of 12 Xingyun satellites in 2020.

The 14th Kuaizhou-1A flight, and second failure, took place on Tuesday (December 14). In January 2017, the first deployment took place. Three solid stages as well as a liquid propellant upper stage make up the launcher. It can carry 200 kgs of payload into a sun-synchronous orbit 700 kilometers away (SSO).

The larger Kuaizhou-11 made its first flight in July of 2020, but it was a disaster. There has yet to be a return to flight. Competitors in China’s unfolding commercial space sector may see opportunities in Expace’s struggles.

The failure comes just a week after Galactic Energy, a private rocket company based in China, successfully launched a Ceres-1 light-lift solid rocket for the second time. Galactic Energy is one of a slew of new launch companies vying for commercial contracts in China. CAS Space, another state entity remake, is planning its first release for the very first quarter of the year 2022 and, like Geespace, has established facilities in Guangzhou’s Nansha district.

Expace, on the other hand, is one of China’s best-funded startup companies, with a well-established production chain in Wuhan. The satellites onboard Tuesday’s flight belonged to Geely, a Chinese private automaker that plans to deploy a constellation to offer self-driving car navigation and connectivity services.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *