Beijing-based startup has won the first major battle of China’s space race, becoming the first private Chinese company to launch a rocket into orbit.
The 20-meter-long Hyperbola-1 lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in remote Gansu province at 1 pm on Thursday afternoon. It carried two government-owned satellites into space.
Interstellar Glory Space Technology, also known as iSpace, was the proud maker of the rocket. It was founded just three years ago.
The successful launch follows failures over the past year by two of iSpace’s rivals amid a contest for early supremacy in China’s fledgling private space industry.
Beijing only allowed private companies to enter the space industry in 2014. By the end of 2018, there were more than 100 registered private companies in the potentially extremely profitable industry.
In this mission to catch up to the United States, China at least has the imaginations of its youth on its side. A recent poll discovered that when asked what they want to be when they grow up, Chinese children’s most popular answer was astronaut while American kids said YouTuber.