China is developing a new generation recoverable satellite for commercial use, which is expected to make its maiden flight in 2020, according to a space engineer.
Delivering a report at a science communication salon recently, Zhao Huiguang, chief designer of the recoverable satellite from the China Academy of Space Technology, said China’s new generation recoverable satellite is able to return 500 kg to 600 kg payloads back to Earth from space.
So far, China has launched 25 retrievable satellites, and their usage is shifting from resources investigation to space science, according to Zhao.
China launched its 25th recoverable satellite, SJ-10, in April 2016, to carry out 19 space science experiments, including mice embryo development in space and thermocapillary convection experiments.
“Through that mission, we improved the retrievable satellite platform. Currently, our satellite is able to return 250 kg payloads back to Earth from space,” Zhao said.
An investment report shows that the scale of the space microgravity industry in the development of new materials, electronic technology and biological pharmacy has increased rapidly in recent years, which means the commercial recoverable satellite has promising prospects, Zhao said.
He added that the functions of China’s recoverable satellites can be further improved in fields such as carrying capacity, microgravity level, in-orbit experimental capacity, data service, power supply and duration of staying in orbit.
In the coming 10 years, China will launch 10 to 15 recoverable satellites to meet the demand of domestic and international customers, Zhao said.