Commercial exploration of space will become an unstoppable trend as more strong private start-ups enter the commercial aerospace industry in China, said experts.
As the world held its breath in anticipation of SpaceX’s launch of Falcon Heavy, a Chinese individually-funded satellite was launched last week, capable of operating in space for one year to take and transmit pictures and videos of the universe.
The FMN 1 is a panoramic-camera CubeSat, a type of miniaturized satellite made up of multiple cubic units, and will be used to help members of the public observe outer space, according to a statement from China Great Wall Industry Corp, which provided the launch service, China National Radio (CNR) reported on Sunday.
The satellite was carried on a Long March 2D carrier rocket at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China, along with the much larger ZH 1 – the nation’s first seismo-electromagnetic satellite, which can help scientists better study earthquakes – as well as five other small satellites like the FMN 1, said the report.
It said that the satellite program was funded solely by real estate tycoon Feng Lun, chairman of Beijing-based Vantone Holdings, who spent 5 million yuan ($800,000) on the launch.
While this launch is only an exploration with the aim of promoting charity and education, future satellite launches will seek to make profits, Feng was quoted by CNR as saying.
Feng could not be reached for comment as of press time and Vantone told the Global Times on Tuesday that he no longer works at the company. He was quoted earlier by CNR as saying that he hoped the satellite would enable the public to get closer to space and also give him a new platform for mass communication. He also said the satellite would fly over China three times a day and will be able to transmit data back to the ground at those times.