Animation showing video footage captured by the Jilin-1 commercial satellite of the OneSpace OS-X1 suborbital rocket launch from Jiuquan on September 7, 2018.
Chinese private launch firm OneSpace has taken another step towards making its maiden orbital launch with a successful fourth stage engine test of its OS-M launch vehicle.
The tests carried out on October 23 included a third and fourth stage separation test for the solid-propellant OS-M rocket, which will be capable of lifting 205 kg of payload to a 300-km-altitude low Earth orbit (LEO) or 73 to an 800 km Sun-synchronous orbit.
OneSpace performed hot fire ground tests of the OS-M main stage engine in July and third stage tests in September, ahead of the company's second suborbital flight.
A company spokesperson told gbtimes.com that for the next steps, OneSpace will carry out a structure static test and an electrical system comprehensive test, as well as attitude control and propulsion systems checks and vibration tests for the OS-M rocket. Launch is currently expected to take place around the end of this year.
OneSpace successfully launched its second suborbital rocket from Jiuquan in the Gobi Desert last month.
The Chongqing Liangjiang Star rocket lifted off at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre at 04:10 UTC (12:10 local), reaching an altitude of around 35 kilometres and travelling 169 km during a flight of 200 seconds, in accordance with requirements from an unnamed customer.
Amazingly, a Chinese commercial remote sensing satellite captured stunning footage of the suborbital rocket launch from orbit.
Animation showing video footage captured by the Jilin-1 commercial satellite of the OneSpace OS-X1 suborbital rocket launch from Jiuquan on September 7, 2018. Sina Weibo/CGST
OneSpace is one of around 10 space launch companies that have emerged following a 2014 Chinese government decision to open the space sector to private capital, especially in the arenas of launch and small satellites.
One of these startups, Landspace, is currently at the launch site preparing for what could be the first orbital launch by a Chinese private company.
The Zhuque-1 solid-propellant rocket is currently being readied for launch from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China, with the mission expected to take place on October 27.
Assembly of the Landspace Zhuque-1 rocket. Landspace
Lower-profile, newer companies include S-Motor, JiuZhou YunJian, SpaceTrek, Galaxy Space, Deep Blue Space and Xinghe Power.
Founded in October 2016, iSpace is looking to launch its first orbital rocket, Hyperbola-1, in April 2019 to a 300-km LEO orbit from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre, stating in a press release (in Chinese) that 80 kg of payload capacity remains available.
Chinese launch company iSpace advertises available payload for its April 2019 launch of Hyperbola-1. iSpace