The rolling era of commercial aerospace: companies have launched 21 satellites, and 47,000 aerospace companies have quietly disappeared

“In the future, where our satellites can be targeted, and images can be obtained quickly, this is quite exciting.”

The door of aerospace opened to the private sector, and commercial aerospace entered a new chapter.

From Branson’s Virgin Atlantic to Bezos’s blue origin, as the founders of two private companies declared success in space flight, commercial aerospace was also set off more lively.

The door of aerospace opened to the private sector, and commercial aerospace entered a new chapter. According to estimates by the Swiss investment bank UBS, the space travel market will reach an annual scale of US$3 billion in the next ten years. By 2030, the annual revenue of the global aerospace industry is expected to increase to 800 billion US dollars.

However, most commercial aerospace companies are still in the early stage of investment, and both rocket manufacturing and satellite production are heavy asset operations, and the cost recovery cycle is extremely long. Compared with the United States, my country’s private commercial aerospace industry is in a difficult period of development. For example, their own hematopoietic capacity is insufficient, and they rely heavily on external financing. Once financing is not smooth, they will face the crisis of breaking the capital chain.

Therefore, under the huge attraction of space, although companies continue to enter, the market has its own cruel side. According to the company’s data, among the 85,000 registered aerospace companies, only 38,000 have the status of “existing and in business”.

Of course, as the “new power” of the aerospace industry, China’s private power, as a supplement to the national power, is promoting the rapid development of the aerospace field.

Listen, a tough battle for commercial aerospace has begun.

 1  “Cross the River by Touching the Stones”

Inno Angel partner Zhu Xiaocheng remembers that it was a Sunday in 2016. Under the introduction of a friend, Zhu Xiaocheng met with the founder of Tianyi Research Institute Yang Feng and co-founder and CTO Ren Weijia.

Zhu Xiaocheng had a good first impression of the two. “The first feeling is that they have deep knowledge and sufficient experience. They have the rigor of science and engineering men and the passion for realizing commercial aerospace dreams. At that time, they felt that the overall performance of the team was remarkable.” He added.

It is understood that Yang Feng graduated from the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, is the national Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Science and Innovation experts storehouse of talent to promote scientific and technological innovation plan business people only. Before founding Tianyi Research Institute, he had a period of entrepreneurial experience and was named one of China’s 40 business elites under the age of 40 by the Chinese version of Fortune.

Ren Weijia resigned from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and was involved in missions such as Shenzhou 4-8 , Tiangong-1, Tiangong-2, Tianzhou- 1, and manned space station. At that time, he was mainly responsible for the various sciences on the spacecraft. Research. In addition, from 2003 to 2007, Ren Weijia also participated in the development of a ground satellite, so he was very familiar with the entire satellite manufacturing process.

The two people’s profound technical accumulation and solid working background aroused Zhu Xiaocheng’s interest. After this meeting, he led his colleagues to conduct due diligence on Tianyi Research Institute and began to understand the industry situation.

“In fact, this investment is also Inno Angel’s first attempt in the aerospace field.” Like most people’s impressions, the top aerospace technology is mysterious and full of imagination. The mysterious aerospace industry, which was originally engaged in research and development in scientific research institutes, was suddenly placed in front of Zhu Xiaocheng, “We didn’t understand much at first, but vaguely saw the endless prospects of the industry. In the following years, the development of Tianyi also proved us The original judgment.”

This is related to the time when China’s “commercial aerospace” concept emerged.

2014 was a turning point. Prior to this, the term “commercial aerospace” had not been formally proposed in China. Since 2014, the state and local governments have frequently introduced documents and regulations that are beneficial to the development of commercial aerospace, encouraging private capital to enter the industry in a healthy and orderly manner. At the same time, the state also actively takes the lead in the construction of related industrial service facilities and parks to support the implementation of projects.

We must know that my country’s aerospace industry generally has a strong military background. As the country vigorously promotes military-civilian integration and industrial upgrading and transformation of “Internet + aerospace”, the aerospace industry has entered the process of commercialization in many fields.

However, the fields involved in aerospace are more professional, and it is not easy for capital to understand the industry. Even in 2016, there are not too many companies that can be benchmarked in the industry.

“When we invested in the Tianyi Research Institute, there were few companies in China that could launch satellites, and there were no companies that formed a certain model.” Zhu Xiaocheng frankly said, “Everyone didn’t understand the market structure at the time. Before, the aerospace industry was done within the system.”

The rolling era of commercial aerospace: companies have launched 21 satellites, and 47,000 aerospace companies have quietly disappeared

Picture / Xiaoxiang-1 satellite in-orbit simulation

In fact, it was not just investors who were confused, but domestic commercial aerospace at that time was purely a new thing. The aerospace people who came out of the system to start businesses are also crossing the river by feeling the stones.

Deep Blue Aerospace founder Huo Liang, is the new wave of commercial space in the Young Creators industry. He once worked for the Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation, and has always paid close attention to the trends and developments of foreign private aerospace development.

Two events inspired Huo Liang’s determination to start a business. The first is that Musk’s SapceX successfully completed the vertical recovery at sea for the first time. This news inspired Huo Liang, “If the rocket can be reused like an airplane, then the cost of entering space can be reduced by a hundredfold.”

Disposable rockets at this stage are just as expensive as we go to the United States by plane, but we cannot take the same plane back the same way after arriving in the United States. “If the rocket can be reused, although it will increase the complexity of the rocket and the cost of part of the maintenance each time, it is a significant improvement compared to the cost of starting hundreds of millions of dollars.”

In addition, at the beginning of 2016, the country upgraded the “military-civilian integration” to a national strategy, and Huo Liang vaguely felt that the private aerospace industry would be very promising. “At that time I felt that I was still relatively young, and I could still toss when I was around 33 years old.”

But at that time, private enterprises were in a very confused state. How should this industry develop in the future? What state can it develop? No one has a clear understanding. “The situation in this industry at that time was like crossing a river by feeling the stones. Everyone tried various methods to move forward under various uncertain factors.” Huo Liang said.

It is worth noting that the aerospace industry chain is lengthy and involves too many links. Therefore, after deciding to build a rocket, a common difficulty faced by commercial aerospace startups is that they should establish the market positioning of their products and enterprises.

After deciding to build a rocket, what product and market positioning a commercial aerospace company should focus on has also become a core issue for entrepreneurial companies. It is understood that Huo Liang’s team decided from the very beginning to focus on the direction of efficiently reducing rocket costs, which is a recoverable launch vehicle.

In this track with extremely strong technical attributes, there is a lack of leaders on the entrepreneurial road, waiting for the enterprises to be destined to not be smooth sailing.

 2Deep  into the commercial aerospace hinterland

The time comes to 2019, at the Wangjing Yingnuo Angel Office, Zhu Xiaocheng and Tianbing Technology founder Kang Yonglai met for the first time. Because of time constraints, Zhu Xiaocheng took more than half an hour to talk with Kang Yong and used dinner for all-round communication.

At that time, Zhu Xiaocheng already had a certain understanding of the aerospace industry, and established a certain logic of judgment for aerospace projects, and understood what might be done well and what might not be enough.

Before starting his own business, Kang Yonglai had worked in the system for many years, and his first impression was “stable.” Zhu Xiaocheng commented that he was very confident and confident when answering questions, and he also had a certain explosive power.

During the meeting for more than half an hour, Zhu Xiaocheng only asked Kang Yonglai 6 questions. After asking, Kang Yonglai also expressed his surprise, “He said, Mr. Zhu, you have asked me all the core things, and all the things at the bottom of the box have been turned out.”

In the past three years, both Zhu Xiaocheng and the capital market have undergone tremendous changes in their understanding of commercial aerospace.

After the meal, “I asked him what your ideals are? He said he wanted to be the Musk of China.” In Zhu Xiaocheng’s view, this is a plus point for him, “Some people want to say this, I think Very imaginary. But after chatting with him, I think it’s pretty good.”

Unlike the early adopters a few years ago, Inno Angel now also regards commercial aerospace as an important track for future investment layout.

Zhu Xiaocheng revealed to the “Forefront of Entrepreneurship ” that now the company has not only invested in the Tianyi Research Institute engaged in satellite research and development, and the commercial rocket developer Tianbing Technology. In the first half of this year, Inno Angel also invested in a commercial reusable spacecraft project. Companies that are also evaluating aerospace power and aerospace commercial development applications.

With the continuous exploration of entrepreneurs in the field of commercial aerospace, after years of popular science, investors have evolved from not understanding the difference between aviation and aerospace to a state where they can go deep into the industrial chain for investment.

“Especially after 2020, I found that capital is no longer hesitating to the commercial aerospace industry.” Huo Liang told the “Frontline of Entrepreneurship.” He has contacted many investment institutions. They had just waited and see attitude towards commercial aerospace before, but now, As the path of commercial aerospace becomes clearer and clearer, more and more investors visit different companies to conduct investigations and actively deploy.

“In fact, we have completed a small round of financing in the first half of this year, and will continue to do a new round of financing in the second half of this year.” Huo Liang revealed.

The data analyzed and monitored by the startup Bangruimon show that despite the impact of the epidemic, the investment and financing of the commercial aerospace sector in 2020 will continue to be hot. Although the number of financing events decreased by 36% compared with 2019, the amount of financing increased significantly, breaking through 10 billion yuan for the first time, reaching 10.369 billion yuan, an increase of 61.21% compared to 2019.

Capitals have seen projects become professional, and corporate projects have gradually come to fruition.

For example, Deep Blue Aerospace formed a relatively complete technical team from the end of 2018 to the beginning of 2019. In 2019, it began to carry out technical design and put into production. The rocket engine and whole rocket production and test planning were orderly, and the construction of factory buildings and scientific research bases was also proceeding in an orderly manner. .

According to Huo Liang, by the end of 2020, his company already has complete manufacturing and testing capabilities.

It is worth mentioning that rocket development is a complex system engineering that requires the full coordination of the entire rocket engine, electrical, control, structure, and pressurized transportation systems to ensure the success of the rocket flight, but before the first flight, separate organization Only the products of each system can be tested, and the cooperation of the various systems of the whole arrow cannot be evaluated.

Therefore, a static ignition test should be carried out before the flight of the rocket, so that the entire rocket system can fully simulate the whole process of the real flight as much as possible, and all actual flight products and systems can be integrated for a comprehensive assessment before the actual flight, fully exposing potential risks and effectively improving The reliability of launching rockets.

The rolling era of commercial aerospace: companies have launched 21 satellites, and 47,000 aerospace companies have quietly disappeared

The rolling era of commercial aerospace: companies have launched 21 satellites, and 47,000 aerospace companies have quietly disappeared

Picture/Preparation for static ignition of Deep Blue Space Rocket

The rolling era of commercial aerospace: companies have launched 21 satellites, and 47,000 aerospace companies have quietly disappeared

Picture/Preparation for static ignition of Deep Blue Space Rocket

“Forefront of Entrepreneurship” learned that recently, Deep Blue Aerospace successfully organized and completed the first 10s static ignition test of the “Nebula-M” liquid recovery test arrow No. 1 at the Tongchuan Commercial Aerospace Base. According to the analysis of the test data , the engine, control, electrical, pressurized transmission, and ground test, launch and control systems are working normally, reaching the test and assessment targets.

It is reported that after the completion of the static ignition test, Deep Blue Aerospace is about to carry out the “jump” vertical recovery flight test at the meter-level and 100-meter level, taking the first step in the vertical recovery test of China’s pumped engine rocket.

The rolling era of commercial aerospace: companies have launched 21 satellites, and 47,000 aerospace companies have quietly disappeared

Picture / The static ignition site of the Deep Blue Space Rocket

The development path of the Tianyi Research Institute has become increasingly clear: first, the cost of satellites is reduced through independent research and development of satellites, and then the satellites are sent into space in batches to form a large-scale constellation, and then they can provide cost-effective satellite services to the ground.

Up to now, the Tianyi Research Institute has completed 12 space missions and successfully launched 21 small satellites.

The rolling era of commercial aerospace: companies have launched 21 satellites, and 47,000 aerospace companies have quietly disappeared

Picture / Beihang Satellite No. 1 of the Tianyi Research Institute

The rolling era of commercial aerospace: companies have launched 21 satellites, and 47,000 aerospace companies have quietly disappeared

The rolling era of commercial aerospace: companies have launched 21 satellites, and 47,000 aerospace companies have quietly disappeared

Photo: Yuanguang Satellite of Tianyi Research Institute

The satellite launched into space is already working. In the early morning of January 15 this year, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake occurred in Indonesia. The “Hai Si No. 1”, which was launched less than one month ago, provided it with the world’s first effective satellite remote sensing data of the disaster area. Recently, a ship in Taiwan Province had an accident on the Suez Canal. The Tianyi Research Institute clearly captured pictures of the rescue at the time through the synthetic aperture radar remote sensing satellite “Hesse-1” launched by the company earlier.

Yang Feng said, “We hope that in any corner of the world in the future, if there is an emergency, geological disaster, etc., our satellites can immediately point out where to hit, and obtain images to help people on the ground quickly achieve rescue. I think about this. Things are quite exciting.”

It is understood that ordinary optical satellites in operation at this stage will not be able to obtain images on the ground at night or in weather such as cloud, snow, fog and rain. However, the synthetic aperture radar remote sensing satellite developed by the Tianyi Research Institute is not affected by day and night. In addition to weather effects, obtaining all-weather remote sensing images all day long can play an important role in disaster emergency response.

In addition, there are many commercial aerospace products. For example, Zero One Space launched China’s first private self-developed commercial rocket in May 2018, and has completed 4 rocket launches so far, and has strategically deployed liquid rockets. Research and development; In 2019, the Glory of Interstellar Hyperbola One, the Yaoyi Changan Auchan carrier rocket, was successfully launched at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center of China; last year, the Ceres-1 carrier rocket successfully flew for the first time at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center of China, and successfully deployed the Apocalypse constellation The Eleven Stars are sent into the scheduled orbit…

In just 6 years, domestic commercial aerospace has entered the fast lane of development.

 3  The involutionary era of commercial aerospace

On July 20, as the huge smoke and dust dissipated, the silver bullet-style manned cabin slowly opened the door, and the world’s richest man and Amazon President Bezos’ space travel dream came true. Earlier, Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Galactic, had just snatched Bezos’ title as the “first person in space tourism”.

The dream of space travel that was once out of reach has finally come true this year. Even Musk plans to lead 4 ordinary people without professional training on a 3-day trip around the earth in September this year.

In fact, the founders of several companies have been preparing for this space travel for a long time.

Originally, Bezos wanted to compete for the title of “the first person in space tourism” and announced that he would go to space on July 20. Unexpectedly, the founder of Virgin Galactic will be the first to finish it on July 11. Later, Bezos publicly stated that Richard Branson only went to the Carmen Line (the dividing line between aviation and aerospace, this line is located at an altitude of 100 kilometers) below the ground 80 kilometers, not really into space.

In other words, Bezos believes that he is the world’s top richest man who has truly entered space.

Musk said that only the goals to the moon and Mars can arouse his personal interest.

The desire of the two giants to conquer space also shows that the U.S. aerospace industry is already very involuntary.

In this regard, Yang Feng also stated in his personal video account, “U.S. aerospace is already so involved, and China’s aerospace is about to begin to involute. I personally think that only competition can promote the rapid development of the industry.”

In fact, the competition in my country’s commercial aerospace market has never stopped, and the industry reshuffle has already begun-some companies have gone silent, and new companies will soon enter.

The rolling era of commercial aerospace: companies have launched 21 satellites, and 47,000 aerospace companies have quietly disappeared

The rolling era of commercial aerospace: companies have launched 21 satellites, and 47,000 aerospace companies have quietly disappeared

According to the data from the enterprise check-up, from the perspective of the development of aerospace-related enterprises since 2015, the growth of enterprise registrations has accelerated in 2018, with the number of registrations exceeding 10,000 for the first time; 2019 is the peak period of enterprise registrations in seven years, with a total of registrations throughout the year There are 31,300 companies; the number of company registrations has declined in 2020, and the number of registrations for the year is more than 4,600.

The competition, bloodshed and iteration among enterprises also happen here. According to the company’s data, there are currently a total of 85,000 “aerospace”-related companies registered in my country, of which 38,000 are “surviving and in business”.

Although my country’s aerospace industry has introduced more private capital, it is an indisputable fact that commercial aerospace projects have high technical requirements, large investment funds, and long investment return periods. In an ideal state, healthy competition on the commercial aerospace track can achieve capital and technological progress, thereby increasing efficiency.

Taking the single-core Falcon 9 rocket designed and manufactured by SpaceX as an example, its development cost is as low as US$300 million. It is about 48 meters high, weighs 333 tons full of fuel, and can launch nearly 10.5 tons of payloads (such as communications satellites) into low earth orbit.

The cost of developing a liquid recyclable rocket is even higher. An independent NASA study estimates that the development and construction of SpaceX’s recoverable Falcon 9 rocket will cost between US$1.7 billion and US$4 billion.

As for why commercial aerospace is about to enter the rollover period, it is because the five-year period of competition among domestic rocket private companies has passed since 2015. The industry has gradually developed from the product stage to the landing stage.

“The companies in the industry should soon enter the PK stage, and the survival of the fittest will appear.” Zhu Xiaocheng said, but the entire commercial aerospace market is far from being developed, and the space is huge.

Huo Liang also said that compared with the private aerospace industry on the other side of the ocean, the domestic commercial aerospace industry is still at an early stage.

This is indeed the case. Up to now, SpaceX has launched nearly 900 satellites. SpaceX has launched a rocket for the 20th time this year. The number of spacecraft put into orbit accounted for 80.8% of the world’s total, which is about 25% higher than the 175-ton payload of China, Russia, India, Japan, the European Union and other rocket launch companies in the United States.

However, the above-mentioned commercial aerospace companies have accumulated many years of technology and experience. As early as 2000, 6 years after Amazon was founded, Bezos established Blue Origin, followed by Musk’s SpaceX, which was established in 2002, and then Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic. Founded in 2004.

Counting down, the history of foreign commercial aerospace has been 20 years, and China’s commercial aerospace, which has been dormant for 6 years, has enough time and strength to make another success in this space war.

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