China’s private rocket firm OneSpace has completed assembly and testing of its OS-M rocket in preparation for a launch at the end of March. In the event of success, this launch will become the first to reach orbit.
Tests on the OS-M1 solid propellant rocket started in Xi’an, north China, last week. Then, the rocket was transported to the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert.
According to OneSpace, the OS-M1 has a length of 19m and a diameter of 2m. It’s reportedly capable of carrying a 205-kilogram payload to 300-kilometer low Earth orbit, and 73 kilograms to 800-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit.
Earlier in March, ZeroG Lab, a Beijing-based developer of micro- and nanosatellites and components, revealed that its Lingque-1B technology verification satellite will be launched March 25 from Jiuquan.
OneSpace says that the OS-M1 has a short cycle and low launch cost. This should allow an economically efficient delivery of payloads to Earth orbit.
It’s interesting to note that this important development for the Chinese private space industry comes with almost no attention from the mainstream media. Some bloggers covering the development are joking that the Western media is scared by a Chinese answer to SpaceX.