China rolls out rocket for business

Smart Dragon-1 rocket.
A Chinese government space agency successfully launched on Saturday its first rocket meant for commercial use, state television CCTV reported, as firms in the country compete to join a commercial satellite boom.

Smart Dragon-1 rocket, which weighs 23 tonnes and was developed by a unit of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), successfully delivered three satellites into orbit after a launch in Jiuquan, Gansu, CCTV said.

China envisions constellations of commercial satellites that can offer services ranging from high-speed internet for aircraft to tracking coal shipments.

Reliable, low-cost and frequent rocket launches will be key for that.

Smart Dragon-1, whose research and development budget came from social capital rather than State funding, is a demonstration of China’s drive to commercialise the rockets sector, where private rocket firm are allowed to enter the market to compete with each other, CCTV said.

Last month, Beijing-based iSpace became the first private firm to deliver a satellite into orbit on its rocket. Since late last year, two other startups have attempted to launch satellites but have failed.

Meanwhile, millions of years after the ancestors of humans evolved to lose their tails, a research team at Japan’s Keio University have built a robotic one they say could help unsteady elderly people keep their balance.

For More of This and Other Stories, Grab Your Copy of the Standard Newspaper.

Dubbed Arque, the grey one-meter device mimics tails such as those of cheetahs and other animals used to keep their balance while running and climbing, according to the Keio team.

Genetic research that reconstructed the past population dynamics of the cave bear, a prominent prehistoric denizen of Europe, implicates Homo sapiens rather than climate cooling in the Ice Age extinction of these brawny plant-loving beasts.   

We are undertaking a survey to help us improve our content for you. This will only take 1 minute of your time, please give us your feedback by clicking HERE. All responses will be confidential.

RocketsSmart Dragon-1 rocketCASC