Thursday, July 18, 2024

Chinese satellite manufacturer MinoSpace raises $137 million

HELSINKI — Chinese commercial satellite maker MinoSpace has secured more than $137 million to further its design and production aspirations.

MinoSpace, also known as Beijing Weina Star Technology Co., Ltd., announced the funding June 24, now describing itself as a commercial space unicorn enterprise, having secured 1 billion yuan ($137 million).

Wuxi Economic Development Zone Shangxian Industry Investment Fund, managed by SIP Oriza PE Fund Management, led the round. Liangxi Science and Technology Innovation Industry Fund, managed by Bohua Capital and supporting technological innovation and industrial development in Wuxi City’s Liangxi district, followed, along with existing shareholder Qingdao Huizhu Anfulan.

The funding will ensure the successful implementation of major national and commercial missions like satellite internet and Earth observation, Gao Enyu, MinoSpace founder and chairman, said in a statement.

The round will also go towards enhancing and perfecting the supply chain and increasing investment in core products and technologies. The company aims to establish an efficient mass production line for satellites, steadily improving production capacity and scale, Gao stated.

MinoSpace will also soon break ground on a satellite manufacturing base within Wuxi City, according to a Wuxi economic development district (WEDD) statement. This is intended to “help our region accelerate the construction of a commercial aerospace industry ecosystem and promote the creation of a world-class aerospace industry cluster with international influence and competitiveness,” according to the WEDD statement.

Wuxi City released new policies June 13 to foster commercial space, focusing on commercial rockets, satellite manufacturing and space applications. Attracting MinoSpace will be a boost for plans to develop a hub for advanced satellite technology and manufacturing, while also hoping for a local positive ripple effect. Liangxi District also attracted June 27 a base for another Chinese satellite unicorn, GalaxySpace.

Numerous Chinese city and provincial governments have initiated commercial space action plans, most notably Beijing and Shanghai

China’s central government noted commercial space as a priority for the first time in its work report earlier this year.

The C1 funding round was the second large Chinese commercial space fund raising activity in June. It followed launch service provider Space Pioneer securing $207 million for its Tianlong-3 rocket. The company then suffered a catastrophic static-fire test failure June 30.

MinoSpace was established in 2017. It was one of the first Chinese commercial satellite companies following first moves to open up China’s space sector in late 2014. 

It has developed eight satellite platforms ranging in size from 10 to 1,000 kilograms. The latter is a geostationary communications platform. Other platforms cover remote sensing at a range of resolutions and a flexible communications, Internet of Things and navigation platform. MinoSpace is planning a 2,000 kg platform.

MinoSpace states its business architecture as “two centers, plus four bases and six stations.” These facilities cover satellite design, research and development, production, tracking and control and delivery. MinoSpace has the production capacity of more than 50 satellites per year, according to the release.

The company has seen 24 of its satellites launched into orbit as of June 2024. These include 0.5-meter-resolution optical and X-band commercial synthetic aperture radar remote sensing satellites, and a Ku-band phased array communications satellite. 

Existing shareholders include state-owned space and defense giant CASIC, Shenzhen Capital Group, Yonghua Capital and CITIC Securities.

The company now has overseas sales offices established in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. It says it will also continue to deepen cooperation with countries along the Belt and Road Initiative.

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