Caixin
Apr 26, 2021 06:33 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Fragmented Supply Chain Keeps China’s Private Rocket-Makers From Taking Off, Exec Says

What’s new: Inefficient and costly supply chains are holding back the development of China’s private rocket companies, even though some have achieved notable successes in the last five years, the head of one such firm has said.

Liu Baiqi, the CEO of Galactic Energy (Beijing) Space Technology Co. Ltd., said Saturday that the industry’s nonstandard, specialized and small-batch manufacturing processes make it a “huge challenge” for rocket-makers to create reliable products at low cost.

Private space companies are also battling less predictable capital volumes and more staff turnover than their state-operated counterparts, Liu said at a major aerospace industry forum in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing.

Industry participants need to find their niches and push the supply chain to make more standardized, modular products, instead of relying so heavily on integration and assembly, he added.

The background: A handful of Chinese enterprises akin to Elon Musk’s SpaceX have emerged in the last half-decade, but their profitability remains unclear.

To date, only two private Chinese companies — Galactic Energy and Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology Ltd. — have successfully launched a projectile into orbit.

Three more launch attempts, including another from Interstellar Glory and one each from LandSpace Technology Corp. Ltd and Beijing OneSpace Technology Co. Ltd., all failed to put a rocket into space.

Galactic Energy plans to fire two more projectiles later this year, Liu said. At least three more launches, including two from industry first-timers, are slated to take place in 2021.

Contact reporter Matthew Walsh (matthewwalsh@caixin.com) and editor Michael Bellart (michaelbellart@caixin.com)

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