Chinese satellite startups Galaxy Space, MinoSpace secure new funding

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Private satellite firms secure new funding which adds to an estimated $1.4 billion already invested in the Chinese commercial space sector.

KERAVA, Finland — Two private Chinese satellite manufacturers have secured new rounds of funding for respective plans to develop and commercialize products.

GalaxySpace, a Beijing-based communications satellite producer, secured an undisclosed sum of series B round funding, led by JIC Technology Investment. Further investment came from Shunwei Capital, IDG Capital, Legend Capital and Morningside Venture Capital.

The company said in a Sept. 16 press release (Chinese) that it is valued at over $703 million (5 billion yuan) following the latest financing. GalaxySpace, founded in 2016 by Xu Ming, is planning to establish a constellation of low Earth orbit satellites to provide global 5G communications. 

The firm is developing the Galaxy-1 satellite platform, which it describes as a low-cost and high-performance small communication satellite. It will be capable of deorbiting itself near the end of its design lifetime.

Beijing-based MinoSpace, also known as Weina Star Technology Co., Ltd., meanwhile secured series A+ funding from Shenzhen Capital Group, Kexin Capital, Yonghua Capital, CASSTAR and others. The financing was announced Sept. 18 (Chinese).

MinoSpace is a developer and manufacturer of small sats between 10 and 500 kilograms as well as satellite components. 

The payload for the first Chinese private orbital launch attempt was developed by MinoSpace, for China Central Television (CCTV). That October 2018 launch ended in failure due to an issue with the rocket’s third stage. MinoSpace’s ‘Star Age-5’ satellite successfully achieved orbit after launch aboard the maiden flight of a new commercial light launch vehicle in August. 

Proliferation of private space firms

Chinese NewSpace startups have emerged following a late 2014 central government policy shift, opening up the launch and small satellite sectors to private capital.

According to Chinese publication Future Aerospace there were 141 registered commercial aerospace companies in China at the end of 2018. These were spread across launch services, satellite manufacturing and applications, ground stations and other areas. 

The publication recently reported that between 2015 to July 2019 there were at least 161 rounds of investment. The funding came from 218 different companies. Future Aerospace conservatively estimates that total funding has exceeded $1.4 billion across this period.

A number of private companies are planning low Earth orbit constellations of remote sensing or communications satellites. These include Commsat, Linksure, ADA Space, Space OK, Laserfleet, Changguang Satellite Co. Ltd., Zhuhai Orbita, ZeroG Lab and Head Aerospace.

Launch companies, benefiting from a civil-military fusion national strategy allowing the transfer of complex, restricted technologies, have made swift progress in a range of light and medium-lift launch vehicles. 

Firms include Landspace, iSpace—which became the first such entity to achieve orbit in July— OneSpace, Linkspace, Expace, Galactic Energy, Jiuzhou Yunjian and others. They will be vying for contracts mainly from private Chinese satellite manufacturers and operators. 

Support for the sector was bolstered in June with state and military authorities releasing a first set of rules and regulations to guide the development of commercial launch vehicles.