A Large Scale Update of the China Aerospace Blog NewSpace Mapping (June 2019 edition)

Introduction

The NewSpace mapping of China Aerospace Blog has just been updated (June 2019 edition), adding 32 more startups to the landscape.

Just as the previous edition, are included in the mapping the following companies:

  • Private space startups, the core of the mapping, and most of which have been founded after the opening of China’s space industry to private investment in 2014 (see China’s New Space: a deep dive into the world’s fastest growing commercial space industry).
  • State-sponsored space startups, invested by state-owned VC funds, especially those which are given the NewSpace tag due to the “philosophy” of their products: such as commercial small lift launchers (ex: Expace).
  • Large private corporations, initially not focused on space but that have diversified into the space industry.

As usual, are excluded the usual large state-owned corporations (CASC, CASIC, China Academy of Sciences) and their subsidiaries.

NewSpace mapping page - JuneFig. 1 – China’s NewSpace startups in June 2019
(high resolution version available here)

Which companies have been added?

The new mapping pins 87 players on the map, up from the 55 of the previous April 2019 edition. Among the added players, 8 are from the Upstream part (5 from “Satellite Manufacturing”, 3 from “Launcher Manufacturing”), 24 from the Downstream part (4 from “Satellite Operators”, 7 from “Ground Segment”, 5 from “TT&C”, 7 from “Satellite Service Providers”, 1 from “Other”).

A majority of the added players are newer or more low-key space startups, as well as some ground segment players initially considered as not notable enough to be included (typically some VSAT antenna manufacturers).

Some data crunching on these startups

The significant increase in the number of startups on the map is a great opportunity to repeat the data analysis, done last year on a much smaller sample.

before after 2014 chartFig. 2 – NewSpace Companies Founded Before & After the 2014 Chinese Space Policy Shift

From above, the effect of the “opening up” policy regarding space and entrepreneurship is obvious: literally two in every three NewSpace players were founded in 2015 or after.

number of startups founded per yearFig. 3 – Dynamics of NewSpace startup creations year by year

It is also worth noting that the creation of startups has actually grown more dynamic every passing year between 2014 and 2017. This is probably due to the increasing support brought by government policy and state-owned space players during those 3 years. The drop in 2018 may be due to the fact that startups founded less than a year or so ago haven’t started communicating yet and are staying very low key. Another reason could be that most areas of the value chain have increasingly been covered. The currently startup landscape is already highly impressive, and many space watchers are hinting at an upcoming overheating and consolidation phase.

headquarters newspace startupsFig. 4 – Block Chart of the Headquarter Locations of the 87 NewSpace Companies

A close-up at the headquarters of the sample of 87 companies shows that Beijing, unsurprisingly, remains the stronghold of Chinese NewSpace, while some interesting activity is building up in some alternative cities (Xi’An, Shanghai, Changsha, Wuhan).

Note: the image featured at the beginning of the blog post is the lift-off of Tianxing-1, small reusable launcher under development by Space Transportation (凌空天行).

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