China aims to boost low-cost space science with ‘Innovation X’ rideshare program (Image Credit: Space.com)
Two Chinese organizations, a satellite producer and a launch company, are teaming up to promote opportunities for space science experiments.
Dubbed the “Innovation X Scientific Flight” program, this project is touted as a low-cost space science and new technology experiments initiative. It was launched on July 27 and opens a worldwide call for new science payloads and products that require in-orbit verification.
Every year, the program plans to launch four scientific nanosatellites weighing 110 pounds (50 kilograms), two microsatellites weighing 220 pounds (100 kilograms) and one scientific experimental satellite weighing 1,320 pounds (600 kilograms). Each will be equipped with science payloads.
Both companies directly involved are affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and include the Innovation Academy of Microsatellite (IAMCAS) and Zhongke Aerospace Exploration Technology Company, otherwise known as CAS Space. IAMCAS is a maker of small satellites, while CAS Space is a launch company spun off from CAS with ambitions to launch satellites into orbit and establish a space tourism business offering suborbital flights.
Innovation X is meant to “provide comprehensive and integrated launch services for global scientists, research institutions, universities, and space companies,” Zhang Yonghe, chief designer at IAMCAS, said in a statement. IAMCAS will provide its Innovation X satellite platform which can host a variety of payloads.
The satellites will launch on CAS Space’s Lijian-1 (Kinetica-1) solid rocket, which had a successful test flight in July 2022 and even briefly set the record for most satellites on a single Chinese launch with a follow-up flight in June earlier this year.
“This joint effort of rockets and satellites seeks to establish a sustainable, cost-effective in-orbit verification model,” Zhang said, “helping more scientists and technologists realize their space dreams.”