Date:2016/09/14   Click:   Original publication time:2016/09/14

The country's  first commercial space industry base will be built in Wuhan, capitalof Hubei province, according to an agreement signed on Monday.

The  Wuhan  National Space Industry Base will focus on the development of carrierrockets and satellites, commercial launch services and applications ofsatellite data.

The  base plans to establish an annual production capacity of 50 carrier rockets and140 commercial satellites by 2020, said Zhang Di, deputy head of the FourthAcademy of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, after a signing ceremonybetween his company and the governments of Hubei and Wuhan at the Second ChinaCommercial Aerospace Forum.

More  than  700 government officials, military officers and experts from the spaceindustry and universities attended the forum in Wuhan.

In  mid-February,  the Fourth Academy set up the nation's second commercial launchprovider, Expace Technology Co, as the backbone of the Wuhan space base, withZhang as the new company's chairman.

The  company,  which has registered capital of 300 million yuan ($44.9 million), hassigned a 100 million yuan launch contract with several domestic clients, Zhangsaid. He declined to give clients' names due to business confidentiality.

He  added  that Expace has received orders for more than 10 launches using theacademy's solid-fuel Kuaizhou, or Fast Vessel, rockets.

"In  fact,  orders have been continuing to swarm into our company, but we have toreject some of them because we must guarantee a good service quality,"Zhang said. "We don't worry about orders because our rate, around $10,000for each kilogram of payload, is much lower than the average charge in theinternational market, which ranges from $25,000 to $30,000."

In  China,  a commercial launch generally refers to a space launch activity paid forby an entity other than a Chinese government department or military agency.

China  has  launched 53 Long March rockets to carry 61 satellites into space for 24foreign clients.

However, all of these commercial missions were undertaken by the country's Long Marchrockets, which were developed by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp,another major contractor in China's space sector.

Because  of  different mission requirements, the Long March series, which mainly usesliquid propellant, has heavier launch capacities and longer flight ranges.

China  Aerospace  Science and Industry Corp began to develop Kuaizhou solid-fuelrockets in 2009, intending to form a low-cost, quick-response rocket family forthe commercial launch market.

The  first  flight of a Kuai-zhou rocket occurred in September 2013, when the companylaunched the Kuaizhou 1 from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Gansuprovince to put an Earth observation satellite into orbit. In November 2014,the Kuaizhou 2 sent another satellite into space from the same launch center.

The  Fourth Academy is now making the Kuaizhou 11 and plans to launch it in 2017,according to Liang Jiqiu, chief designer of the Kuaizhou program at the FourthAcademy.

Liang  said  the Kuaizhou 11 has a liftoff weight of 78 metric tons and will be capableof placing a 1-metric-ton payload into a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of700 kilometers, or a 1.5-metric-ton payload into a low Earth orbit at analtitude of 400 km.

He  said  the road-mobile rocket's prelaunch preparations will take very littletime, and the launch can be conducted on rough terrain.

GaoHongwei,  chairman of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, said theKuaizhou rockets have a high level of strategic importance and a huge marketpotential.

He  said  investments in the commercial launch sector bring a return of up to 14times the original input.

HuShengyun,  a senior rocket engineer at the Fourth Academy, estimates that by2020, the market value of commercial space activities in China will reach 30billion yuan annually.