China has made its first step toward opening up the country's private sector for commercial space flights. Earlier this week, the Chinese company OneSpace Technologies performed the first private rocket launch in the country's history, CNN reports.
The Beijing-based startup company deployed its OS-X rocket from an undisclosed platform in northwest China on May 17, at 07:33 Beijing time, notes GB Times.
The OS-X rocket, named "Chongqing Liangjiang Star," is a suborbital single-stage rocket that measures 30 feet (nine meters) in length and weighs more than 15,800 pounds (7,200 kg).
On its maiden flight, which lasted for 265 seconds, the OS-X soared to an altitude of 25 miles (40 kilometers) and covered a distance of around 170 miles (273 km) from the launch pad, after which it successfully touched down in a designated area.
This is the first-ever rocket to be launched separately from the Chinese government's space agency, the China National Space Administration, states The Verge. Its primary target is to conduct tests and research during suborbital flights, as part of a scientific collaboration between OneSpace and the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China.
"This is the first rocket developed and built entirely with homegrown technology," Shu Chang, OneSpace CEO, told CNNMoney in advance of Thursday's launch.