China is adding a new competitor in the commercial market for small satellite launches.
New launcher’s name is Ceres 1 (Gushenxing 1), like the Roman a goddess of agriculture, grain crops, fertility and motherly relationships.
This commercial smallsat launcher was developed by Chinese startup Galactic Energy (Beijing Xinghe Dongli Space Technology), which was created in Beijing in 2018, and who raised $ 43 millions fundraising to this day
Ceres 1 is 19 m tall four-stage launch vehicle, with the first three stages using solid propulsion. He is capable of placing 350 kg to 200 km in LEO (Low Earth Orbit) and 270 kg to 700 km in SSO (Sun-synchronous orbit).
Second Chinese « private » success
The inaugural flight of Ceres 1 took place on November 7, 2020. The microlauncher was operated from the Jiuquan base in the Gobi desert. It placed a 50 kg satellite, Tianqi 11, dedicated to the IoT (Internet of Things), in low orbit.
Galactic Energy has thus become the fourth Chinese startup to attempt to place a payload into orbit and the second "private" Chinese company to succeed, after the successful launch of the i-Space Hyperbola 1 microlauncher on 25 July 2019.