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Race on for 1st domestic satellite listed firm

By CHENG YU | China Daily | Updated: 2022-04-13 10:13
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A rocket carrying a satellite co-developed by Chang Guang Satellite Technology and Tianjin Yunyao Aerospace Technology blasts off from Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Northwest China's Gansu province, in December. [Photo by WANG JIANGBO/FOR CHINA DAILY]

Last year, China had over 17,000 newly registered commercial aerospace players

China's commercial aerospace sector has embraced a wave of IPO(initial public offering) plans recently, as private enterprises hasten to "aim for the stars" and become the country's first domestically listed aerospace company.

In March, Chang Guang Satellite Technology Co, the country's first commercial remote sensing satellite firm, is planning to file an IPO, according to the website of Haitong Securities.

The move came after rocket startup Beijing Interstellar Glory Space Technology said in January that it planned to be listed on the Science and Technology Innovation Board or the STAR Market on the Shanghai bourse. The company, better known as iSpace, was the country's first private firm to launch a satellite into orbit in 2019.

Behind the IPO wave of Chinese aerospace-related startups is the huge transformation of the country's commercial aerospace industry, which quickly turned from scratch to mastering manufacturing and innovative capabilities over the past five years, industry experts said.

China's commercial aerospace industry, which mainly focuses on businesses related to satellite broadband internet and low-cost carrier rockets, is becoming the latest gold mine for private companies and a fresh engine driving global economic growth.

Morgan Stanley estimates that the global space industry could generate revenue of $1.1 trillion or more by 2040, up from $350 billion in 2021. The consultancy also said that the most significant short and medium-term opportunities will come from the satellite broadband internet industry.

Last year in China, more than 17,000 commercial aerospace-related companies were newly registered, soaring over 4 percent year-on-year. In 2021, 35 financing events took place in the commercial aerospace sector, with the total disclosed financing amount hitting 6.45 billion yuan ($1.01 billion), according to Qichacha, a company that tracks business conditions.

Jiang Jie, a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, said during this year's two sessions in March that the domestic commercial aerospace sector has developed "particularly rapidly" in recent years in terms of market demand.

"Private enterprises play a more important role in the commercial aerospace sector as they are encouraged to tap into space-related manufacturing and applications," said Jiang, who is also a senior rocket scientist at the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology and an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Mi Lei, founding partner of Casstar, a leading venture capital firm focused on hard tech investment, said: "For China, competition in the commercial aerospace sector has become strategically important. It is an area that the country cannot ignore in the decades to come."

In the satellite sector, for instance, it is predicted that about 57,000 low-orbit satellites will be deployed in low-Earth orbit, an orbit that is relatively close to Earth's surface and requires the least amount of energy for satellite placement, Mi said.

"That is to say, there will be very little space left in low-Earth orbit by then. Whichever country deploys ahead of schedule is likely to seize such core resources for the future of humanity," he added.

Over the past few years, Chinese companies have greatly advanced through continuous innovation, investment and technological advancements.

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