China's 'Sky Dragon-3' Rival's Space X
China Advances Space Capabilities Again With New Funding
Chinese commercial launch firm Space Pioneer has secured a new round of funding for the development of its Tianlong-3 rocket, a project that aims to rival the SpaceX Falcon 9. The company, also known as Beijing Tianbing Technology Co., Ltd, announced the successful completion of its "C+" funding round, which is valued in the range of several hundred million yuan (equivalent to $13.7 million), Space News reported. The funding will be allocated towards the finalization of the Tianlong-3 rocket, enabling it to carry payloads of up to 17 tons to low Earth orbit (LEO).
In addition to the Tianlong-3, the funds will also support the production of the smaller Tianlong-2, which achieved a successful maiden flight earlier this year. This feat propelled Space Pioneer to become the first Chinese commercial firm to reach orbit using a liquid propellant rocket. Furthermore, the company revealed plans to construct a launch site for the Tianlong-3 at China's Jiuquan spaceport, located in the Gobi Desert.
Space Pioneer has set ambitious goals for the Tianlong-3, targeting its first launch in the first half of 2024. The company aims to conduct a staggering 30 launches per year within three years of its debut launch. The recent funding round was led by CITIC Construction Investment, the engineering and construction arm of the state-owned CITIC Group. Other state-owned investment vehicles, including CICC, China Construction Bank, CITIC, and Zhejiang University Lianchuang, have also participated in previous funding rounds.
The Tianlong-3, also known as "Sky Dragon-3," is a two-stage rocket that utilizes kerosene-liquid oxygen propellant. It features a reusable first stage and boasts impressive specifications, with a length of 71 meters and a diameter of 3.8 meters. The rocket's takeoff mass is estimated to be 590 tons, generating a thrust of 770 tons.
The Tianlong-3 will possess the capability to lift payloads of up to 17 tons to low Earth orbit, or 14 tons to a 500-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit, Space Pioneer says. Once launched, the Tianlong-3 will become the largest commercial rocket near completion in China, solidifying the country's position in the global space industry. It will also be the second-largest rocket nationally, showcasing China's advancements in space technology.
With the successful completion of the latest funding round, Space Pioneer is now well-positioned to continue the development of the Tianlong-3 rocket. As China seeks to expand its influence in the commercial space sector, the company's ambitious goals and innovative approach are likely to contribute to the nation's growing presence in the global space race. The Tianlong-3 is poised to become a significant player in the future of space exploration, offering new opportunities for scientific research and commercial ventures.