China’s answer to SpaceX achieved the country’s first private commercial rocket launch

The launch marks a new milestone in the country’s commercial space transportation.

Photo: iSpace's WeChat

iSpace—a Beijing-based private rocket company and China’s answer to SpaceX—said it has successfully launched its prototype “SQX-1 Y1” solid rocket from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, at around 1:10 pm Beijing Time today.

The event marked the first successful rocket launch into the orbit by a private Chinese company. The “SQX-1 Y1” is also the most powerful rocket ever developed by a private Chinese company.

The “SQX-1 Y1” rocket, also known as “Hyperbola-1”, weighs 31 tonnes and has three solid-propellant stages and fourth liquid-propellant stage. At full capacity, it could carry a payload of 260 kg in orbits of 500 km, according to The Paper.

The launch sent two satellites—from the China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation and the Beijing Institute of Technology —and several other loads into the orbits of 300 km.

Two other Chinese companies, LandSpace and OneSpace, failed in their previous attempts at launching their rockets.

iSpace was founded in October 2016 and now has a team of about 120 staff. It closed an undisclosed early-stage Series A round funding in June with support from companies like CDH Investment, Matrix Partners China and Shunwei Capital.