China’s commercial division receives funding and direction
China experiences an outburst of commercial space companies since 2014 which is driven by the government launching the space division to private capital. As per the Chinese magazine Future Aerospace, there are 141 registered commercial aerospace companies in China. The statistics hold true as of 2018 end.
The companies comprise of areas including the following:
- Satellite manufacturing
- Ground stations.
In addition, an investor zeal for these space companies persists to rise.
In 2020, an investment of $933 million is in China’s commercial aerospace division. This amounts to more than thrice of that in 2019 i.e., $296 million, as per Tianyancha which is a Chinese statistics platform. There is a new trend that tends towards few funding rounds however, they are large in value.
Details on major rounds in 2020 include per each company with values is as follows:
- Chang Guang Satellite – remote sensing firm ($375 million)
- Landspace – launch companies ($175 million)
- iSpace ($173 million)
- Galactic Energy ($21.5 million)
- Commsat and Galaxy Space – satellite communications startups ($38 million)
The above details affirm an announcement that completes a funding round which results in a new valuation of $1.2 billion. The last rounds of funding are after the government’s decision to include “satellite internet” to a list of “new infrastructures”. This is as Beijing sets out its brand-new priorities. The above statistics put China only after the Unites States in context with the holistic equity investment worldwide in space firms.
Space Angel’s Space Investment Quarterly (Q4 2020) report states the following:
- The United States is responsible for $84 billion out of $177 billion of investment
- Value is 47% from 2011 to at present
- With China making around $52 billion which accounts for 29%
Thomas Colvin is a researcher at the Science and Technology for Defense Analyses’ Policy Institute (STPI). He notes that while equity investment value for China may seem huge, their implication is unclear.
IDA publishes a report in 2019 which finds that funding comes from –
- Private venture capital
- Local and nation investment funds
- State-owned enterprises (SOEs)
- Academic institutions like the Chinese Academy of Sciences
China’s commercial space division expansion is frantic in its initial days. However, a strength of financing and policy direction from Beijing indicates a constellation of fundamental activities and major players — although firms are yet to provide visions and promises — is holding shape.
Greater opportunities may be on the horizon, just as the ISS and U.S. policy shifts present an income flow beyond satellite releases for SpaceX and others.
China’s space station mission, for which China’s human spaceflight office recently launches a request for low-cost cargo transportation to and from the detour station. Its International Lunar Research Station idea could furnish chances in order to support longer-term commercial endeavors. Much will be contingent on central government choices on strategic urgencies and the role conventional actors can perform.