Two Years of Spacety

2018.08 15

Spacety Co., Ltd. (Changsha), a privately-owned Chinese commercial space company established in 2016, has recently completed B-series fund raising totalling ¥ 150 million (about $ 22 million) in July 2018. The company has accomplished 3 space missions, successfully launched 4 satellites and undertaken scientific experiments for 15 customers in the last 2 years, an achievement to be very much applauded in the Chinese commercial aerospace industry.

Apart from these extraordinary results, Spacety has also invested greatly in other areas:

a) Launching Services: a strategic partnership has been established with the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), in the field of satellite development and launching. Spacety is honoured to be the first commercial space company that has signed a strategic cooperation agreement with CALT on satellite launching.

b) Scientific Research: the company has co-operated with the Tsinghua Centre of Astrophysics (THCA) on the GRID Project, planning to launch 24 microsatellites at different orbits, approximately 600 kilometres from the earth’s surface. This will constitute a Spatial Distribution Network for detection of electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational wave and gamma-ray integrated detectors. The first test satellite will be launched in the second half of 2018.

c) Technical Product Development: the company has established an “Advanced Micro-nano Satellite Development Joint Laboratory”, focusing on the exchange of experience and in-depth cooperation in space science, space technology and space applications, utilizing micro-nano satellites. The company also plans to cooperate with Laser Fleet to establish a satellite constellation of 288 laser communication microsats, to allow airline passengers to experience the same wi-fi connection speeds and costs in the air as they do on the ground.

d) International Academia: Spacety is now a member of the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), one of the best-known non-governmental international academic organizations in the global aerospace community. Spacety presented its first-generation microsatellite platforms at the IAC conference in Australia in 2017. Spacety will present at the IAC conference in Germany in 2018 to update the global aerospace community the astonishing results achieved in the last year and plans for future missions.

e) Astronomical Exploration: there are plans to develop and launch the first "timeshare leasing" commercial satellite in China. The company is collecting satellite payload application ideas from the general public. In another Internet field, Spacety has initiated a plan jointly with Zhihu (Beijing Zhizhetianxia Technology Co., Ltd.), entitled “Question the Whole Universe”. The objective is to collect questions from Zhihu users, and the Spacety “Xiangjiang Xinqu” satellite will answer these questions in space.

Spacety is proud to have provided services to more than 10 research institutes, universities and business enterprises. These include the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation and Tsinghua University, and the company has attracted more than 50 potential customers to cooperate in the current and future space scientific missions.

These achievements indicate that Spacety has acquired advanced microsatellite platform technologies, improved its research and development capabilities and strong connections to satellite launch services in China. The company is fully equipped with short-cycle, low-cost, one-stop aerospace services to suit all kinds of client. This also means that space missions operated by Spacety are progressing towards a long-term development path of standardization and serialization.

The company takes the view that the evolution of microsatellites is similar to that of microcomputers fifty years ago and to that of smart phones ten years ago. By constantly breaking through scientific and technological barriers, microcomputers and smart phones have evolved from being owned by users in the national sector to ownership by the general public; a transformation mainly promoted by commercial involvement such as private investment and technological development in commercial companies. The prices of these products have also now been dramatically lowered, with their functions being greatly improved and made more powerful. As for the users, their usage have also increased significantly, with the marketplace becoming bigger and their derivative markets becoming wider. Therefore, this raises the question - why the satellite industry can’t emulate this growth?

Although the capability of small satellites is not comparable to that of large satellites, they can achieve some unique functions through networking, utilizing their characteristics of small volume and fast deployment. Spacety believes that small satellites will be like computers or mobile phones in the future, and they will be epoch-making commercial products.

The company plans to launch 12 microsatellites in 2018 and achieve an annual output of 100 microsatellites by 2020, challenging the speed of commercial aerospace development whilst also researching in some technical fields, such as micro-nano satellite design, satellite network development and digital signal transmission. Spacety also intends to establish a satellite factory to manufacture and assemble microsatellites as standardized products, similar to producing mobile phones today.

When contemplating the achievement of an annual output of 100 microsatellites by 2020, Dr. Weijia Ren, CTO of Spacety, said that the idea was based on a new concept of commercial space business. The idea aims to combine modern industrial mass production methods with space applications to effectively reduce the cost. The 12 microsatellites that are to be designed, manufactured and launched in 2018 will verify the mass production process and demonstrate the feasibility of this new concept.