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Peng Xiaobo: China's rocket launch cost may be lower than SpaceX in 2025

via:驱动之家     time:2021/6/16 22:16:34     readed:152

Wonderful point:

1. For any aerospace enterprise, as long as it keeps launching, failure is a matter of time. What we need to do is to push back the failure that may come infinitely through efforts.

2. For space, mass is the lifeline, and space without mass is meaningless.

3. The general pattern of commercial launch vehicles has emerged, but it does not mean that there are no new opportunities. Commercial space is not in the end.

4. Since the first day of its birth, China's aerospace industry has been determined to be self reliant and completely autonomous and controllable. Compared with other industries, the dependence on foreign countries is not so strong.

5. China Aerospace is China's high-tech business card, and it is also very competitive in the world.

6. In 2024 or 2025, if we can fly hyperbola 3, the cost control ability will be greatly improved compared with the current stage.

Entering the hall, there is a compound space on the right side. On the first floor are the company's series of launch vehicle product models and engine models. Next to them are media reports on the Rockets:

Peng Xiaobo, born in aircraft design, has more than 20 years of experience in aerospace industry. In 2018, he joined the private launch vehicle company Star glory as the general manager of the company.

星际荣耀彭小波:2025年

Return to zero and delay failure indefinitely

After the successful launch of the private company's first sounding, the first multi satellite launch and the first orbiting rocket,

Interstellar glory, an employee said with emotion.

After investigation,The flight failure of hyperbolic one remote two carrier rocket is caused by a thermal insulation foam that should have fallen off early.It seems to be a very small problem, but the launch vehicle is a large system engineering, any small problem may lead to launch failure.

In the view of the research and development team of this rocket, after so long hard work, it is really a pity that it failed for such a reason.

But Peng Xiaobo felt that,In the process of the rapid development of the company, through these lessons, we can ring the alarm bell, let everyone in the fast running at the same time, but also realize the importance of quality work, also very valuable.

It can be seen that how heavy the task of zeroing is, for start-ups, it is an unbearable burden of time, labor and capital. However, Peng Xiaobo believes that all aerospace enterprises should not hesitate to return to zero and should do it unswervingly.

According to Peng Xiaobo, the zeroing work has enabled star glory to sort out all aspects of the company's work, strengthen measures for weak links and, of course, ring an alarm for all.

If everything goes well,

星际荣耀彭小波:2025年

Commercial space is not over

According to the time of establishment, interstellar glory belongs to the second wave of commercial launch vehicle enterprises.The first wave includes Lingke, zero one space and blue arrow space, which was established around 2015; The second wave includes interstellar glory, Starway exploration, deep blue aerospace, Galaxy power, Tianbing technology, etc., which was established after 2016.

After five or six years of exploration, the market has screened out blue arrow aerospace, star glory, star power and other leading enterprises. Zhang Changwu, CEO of blue arrow aerospace, once said that the end of 2019 is an ending stage of the first five years of China's commercial rocket 1.0, and there will also be a watershed.

However, just when interstellar glory is going to be listed on the science and technology innovation board, new commercial launch vehicles are emerging.

For commercial launch vehicle enterprises, the most important thing is to find their own differentiated positioning and characteristics outside the national team. As Wu Zhijian, chairman of the China Aerospace foundation, said,The biggest advantage of commercial aerospace enterprises is low cost. Without cost advantage, there will be no competitive advantage. Peng Xiaobo also believes that compared with the national team, commercial aerospace enterprises are still ants and elephants, and their biggest advantages are efficiency and innovation.

However, how to achieve cost advantage and efficiency? Peng Xiaobo believes that, first of all, from the perspective of technical route, reusable rockets are the future trend, which is an important means to reduce costs; In addition, in terms of management, from R & D management and supply chain management, we should make full use of the relatively complete advantages of China's industrial system, do what we are good at, and improve the market competitiveness of products.

Peng Xiaobo believes that when hyperbola-3 of interstellar glory can fly for the first time, the launch cost control ability can be greatly improved compared with the current stage.

星际荣耀彭小波:2025年

The following is part of the interview with Peng Xiaobo, general manager of star glory, by Netease's "chasing the dream and starry sky" column:

Return to zero is indispensable, and efforts will delay failure indefinitely

Netease Technology: we know that at the beginning of this year, the launch of hyperbola-1 tele2 failed, and it quickly went back to zero. What does this return to zero mean for the whole company? Will we make some adjustments in the future?

Peng Xiaobo: this time, from the point of view of the problem, it is located in a thermal insulation foam that should fall off after the rocket takes off. After falling off, it falls on the IV (four) grid rudder. Under the action of the air pressure, the IV grid rudder steering is blocked. During the subsequent flight, the bubbles are blown down again from the IV grid rudder, and the IV grid rudder restoration control system follows the instructions. The rudder deflection angle is more than 30 degrees in a short time, which leads to the sudden change of the attitude of the rocket and the failure of the flight test.

In the course of the company's development, I personally think it is still a very important node, because it also allows us to take this opportunity to make some adjustments to the management and control of some technical states in the early stage, including the internal aspects that need to be improved and improved. Including from the product acceptance, production management details to do some reinforcement.

Netease Technology: is there a big adjustment range?

Peng Xiaobo: through this work, we should realize that there are still weak links in the control of some technical states or in the acceptance of some products in our early stage, which are not particularly firm or detailed enough. This time, through the return to zero of (hyperbola 1) remote 2, we also sorted out all aspects of the company's work, and put forward some follow-up strengthening measures for weak links. There should be a process to produce effect.

Netease Technology: will this failure have some impact on the mood or confidence of the whole team?

Peng Xiaobo: it will certainly have some impact on everyone's mood, because after all, after a long time of hard work, it is a pity that people fail because of such a reason.

However, I think that in the process of the rapid development of the company, we should ring the alarm bell through some lessons, so that we can realize the importance of quality work while running fast. In other words, we should also realize that the reminder that aerospace takes success as the goal and success as the fundamental principle is very valuable.

I think for any aerospace enterprise, if it always exists and launches, it will fail sooner or later. What we need to do is to push back the possibility of failure indefinitely through hard work. Because our work was not in place, there was a failure soon, which showed that there was a weak link in the quality control.

No matter the cost or the setback, we have already paid. We mainly talk about how to learn from this lesson to make the future work more solid and reliable.

Netease Technology: some people in the industry have mentioned that the cost of zeroing operation is too high, especially for start-up companies, which are time-consuming, labor-consuming and capital consuming. What do you think of zeroing?

Peng Xiaobo: for aerospace, quality is the lifeline. Aerospace without quality is meaningless. Zeroing is a very effective means to ensure product quality and launch success. It is not only the technology return to zero, including the management return to zero, it contains a lot of significance. First, we should seek truth from facts and solve problems correctly; Second, from the perspective of zero management, it is a process of continuous iteration and upgrading of management, and a process of continuous improvement. I think it is not only for aerospace management, but also for other industries.

I think that all the work that aerospace enterprises do to ensure product quality should not be hesitant and should be done unswervingly. This is an effective means and measures to ensure the success of China's space industry in exchange for decades of experience and lessons. Although there are some differences between commercial aerospace and national team in terms of ownership form, I think there should be no difference in the standards and requirements for the pursuit of aerospace quality. Especially for commercial aerospace, in fact, the ability to resist risks or to withstand failures and setbacks is worse than that of national team. So I think commercial enterprises should be more strict in quality than traditional national teams.

A new mode will be considered in the future when rebuilding idle test bed

Netease Technology: this year is also the year of space. There are still 40 rockets to be launched. Will this affect the progress of our liquid rocket launch? Because the station is still very tense.

Peng Xiaobo: the rapid development of aerospace is still a good thing, because it shows that the whole industry is in the process of vigorous development. Relatively speaking, our liquid rocket is still a small liquid rocket, and the requirements for launching fixed facilities are relatively low. It adopts the way of prefabricated cement field pad launching pad, and there will not be too much restrictions and constraints.

Netease Technology: do we have any ideas or plans in terms of working position?

Peng Xiaobo: for small liquid launch vehicles, we put more emphasis on their flexibility and mobility. Therefore, hyperbola-2 is actually a simple launch vehicle. It does not rely on fixed towers, and its site requirements are lower than those of medium and large liquid launch vehicles.

It is also necessary and reasonable for medium-sized or large-sized rockets to be launched with launching towers.

Netease Technology: you once expressed your views on infrastructure sharing at the annual meeting of the economic forum in 2018. You think that commercial aerospace can be shared with the national mission rocket. Three years later, has your view changed?

However, with the development of the company, we will gradually lay out our own capabilities in some key links or core links that have a significant impact on the quality and cost of products. This is also a gradual process, which will not be achieved overnight.

Netease Technology: is there any new action in the test bench?

Peng Xiaobo: now we have built a test bench together with professional organizations, which can also meet the needs of our future 100 ton engine test. As long as we meet our requirements on the basis of the existing test bench, I think it is possible to continue to use this mode in a short time. In the future, if the workload of test run is increasing, or there are some new requirements, and the existing test bench can not meet the requirements, we may consider whether there can be some new cooperation or some new construction on this basis.

Before the end of commercial space, new enterprises may not have no chance

Netease Technology: what kind of development stage do you think the commercial launch vehicle industry has entered? Is there any hope for new enterprises?

Peng Xiaobo: I think for commercial aerospace enterprises, especially rocket enterprises, it should be said that the big pattern or preliminary enterprise status has gradually emerged. But I personally don't think there must be no new opportunities. The Internet industry already has many very powerful enterprises. In recent years, there have been many rising stars. Moreover, it has developed rapidly in a fully competitive market environment. So I don't think that the commercial space industry has settled down now and has seen the end.

Netease Technology: the positioning of commercial aerospace enterprises is more a supplement to the existing national team. In order to achieve differentiation, what are the aspects of this supplement and differentiation?

Peng Xiaobo: from the perspective of the competent authorities of the industry, it is more expressed that the national team is the main force, and it is hoped that the new enterprises of Commercial Aerospace will be the new force.

One of the differences between us and the national team should be reflected in the higher cost performance of our products. To achieve this higher cost performance, it is possible to rely more on technological innovation and more efficient management. As we all know, China Aerospace is in the first echelon in the world. It is also China's high-tech business card, and it is also very competitive in the world. Commercial space started late, so it is still in the early stage of development.

We must have an accurate positioning and find their differences and characteristics. For commercial aerospace enterprises, the biggest advantage may be efficiency and innovation, which we need to strengthen.

Netease Technology: one of the great advantages of commercial launch vehicles is the cost advantage. In which links do we gradually realize the cost advantage?

Peng Xiaobo: in terms of rocket itself, reusable rocket is the trend of future technology development. Because of the repeated trend, the price of launch can be reduced by a large margin, so from the technical route, reuse is an important means to reduce costs. In addition, from the whole management, including the internal R & D management and the whole supply chain management, we must make full use of the advantages of China's relatively complete industrial system and a large number of high-quality partners to do what we are good at and let the partners do what they are good at. I personally think it is an effective way to improve the market competitiveness of products.

Netease Technology: Rocket manufacturing involves the supply chain or the guarantee of some core facilities. How do we consider the problem of how to quickly realize mass production?

Peng Xiaobo: for rocket enterprises, no matter how large the mass production of rocket enterprises is, compared with other civilian industries, it is actually very small. For example, the global sales volume of automobiles is in the order of one hundred million, and the same model in a country may be in the order of one million. The mass production of a single rocket model is actually in double digits. Therefore, compared with the mass production in our traditional civil industry, there is still a big gap in quantity, but the quality requirement is really high. So the characteristics of aerospace products are small batch, multi variety and multi specification. For mass production, the focus is on how to ensure the quality.

Netease Technology: at present, will commercial rocket enterprises have some difficulties in the supply chain or in obtaining upstream and downstream components?

Peng Xiaobo: I think it's OK in this aspect. I didn't feel that it was very difficult. Since the first day of its birth, China Aerospace has always been determined to be self reliant and completely autonomous and controllable. Therefore, compared with other industries, it does not rely so much on foreign countries, so it does not feel particularly difficult to obtain the supply chain.

Netease Technology: you just mentioned the reusability of technology, so it's convenient to introduce the progress or some unique advantages of starglory?

Peng Xiaobo: according to the plan, from June to July this year, we should do the hyperbola-2-sub-level-1 vertical recovery experiment, which is similar to the grasshopper experiment of SpaceX, that is, the vertical take-off and landing test (VTVL). At present, the product is in the process of assembly and issuance, and will soon leave the factory.

From the design of our early technology, simulation experiments, most of the technical problems are better solved. What we have to do now is to really dig deeper to see if there are any problems that have been ignored or unexpected, and those that have a significant impact on the success or failure of flight still need to be checked and dealt with repeatedly.

For vertical recovery, there are still some unique technical difficulties. One is how to change the thrust of the engine, which is actually a new topic for China Aerospace. The engine team has to make a very forward-looking exploration in this aspect. Now, from the situation of the whole test run, cooperation with the company and closed-loop adjustment, it has achieved the desired goal, This is a very important technical difficulty in vertical recycling.

The second is navigation guidance and control. In the past, a free falling body fell to the ground as a wreck after the rocket flew. If we want to make it land at a predetermined landing site in a very precise and controllable way, in fact, the control requirements are very high. Not only the speed control, position control, but also the attitude control. Through numerical simulation and hardware in the loop simulation, in the case of upper deviation, lower deviation and all kinds of extreme pull deviation, the reliability of successful recovery of simulation is above 97%. I think from the perspective of guidance, navigation and control, we have also made a great breakthrough.

The third difficulty is the design of reusable rockets. Compared with the traditional design of disposable rocket, there is still a big difference in the design concept, and we constantly recognize this problem in the process of design. It is a very comprehensive work for the consideration of some structural efficiency, for the whole layout, including the setting and requirements of the mechanism, including heat protection, driving and so on. We have also done some research in the early stage, and now we think that we have the foundation and conditions to carry out the flight test. In any case, there are still some unique difficulties in all aspects, which we haven't encountered in the design process of disposable rocket before.

Netease Technology: according to the plan of interstellar glory, the first is a 15 ton liquid oxygen methane engine, and then a 100 ton engine. What are the considerations for such a development route?

Peng Xiaobo: because we are going to make reusable rockets, it is a brand new topic for China's aerospace industry. Internationally speaking, the only carrier rocket that has successfully launched vertical recovery into orbit is Falcon 9, and the one made by blue origin is still a rocket that has not yet launched into orbit. In this place, we also consider any one thing. It may be an ideal idea, but it may not be a practical and feasible path. Therefore, we hope that through a small launch vehicle, all the technical problems of lox-ch4 reusable rocket can be studied clearly with very small trial and error costs. In this way, it can be made into a large reusable rocket by enlarging the scale. In this way, the risk of the company's development will be smaller, and the road behind it will be smoother.

In fact, it is equivalent to China's small launch vehicles breaking through all the technical difficulties of reusable rockets. When we make large reusable rockets in the future, we can pay less tuition and take fewer detours.

If it's a one-time rocket, it's a simple thing for us. Whether it's a medium rocket or a large rocket, at least for our team, it's not an unattainable goal or even a challenge. But a reusable rocket, objectively speaking, is indeed a challenge. We still hope that through the idea of small steps, fast iteration and continuous evolution, we can gradually polish the product to be more reliable and safer.

Netease Technology: the focus of interstellar glory No.1 engine, which stage has it reached?

Peng Xiaobo: focus No.1 engine has completed the test run for more than 7000 seconds. It has completed the test run of the whole simulation and flight conditions, including the joint commissioning of the whole system. It is about to enter the flight assessment stage. It should be said that the progress is relatively smooth and fast.

In fact, from February to now, four more long-range tests have been conducted, with a total of about 2000 seconds. From the perspective of technical status, some of our technical status and early changes are not particularly big, so there is no official announcement. There is also a test run in early April. After this test run, we will introduce the latest progress.

China's rocket launch cost may be equal to SpaceX in 2025

Netease Technology: do we have any development plan in the next two to three years?

Peng Xiaobo: in the next two to three years, I hope to gradually expand our R & D team, because the current R & D tasks, including some market projects, are still very heavy and manpower is still tight, so the team is still expanding in an orderly way.

Netease Technology: how many people does the R & D team need and what is your goal?

Peng Xiaobo: I don't think we have planned the number of people deliberately, but we will make statistics on the workload of R & D personnel. Through the statistical data, we will make dynamic adjustment. I personally estimate that the team will continue to expand for quite a long time, because we all know that SpaceX now has more than 5000 people and 6000 people, but we have not achieved our goal.

Netease Technology: now the recruitment of personnel will be more diversified, do not have to be aerospace system or aerospace professional some people?

Peng Xiaobo: Yes, our core technical team members are mainly mature talents. We train a large number of fresh graduates and young engineers at the same time. It's just like building a house. As long as four beams and eight columns are erected, other places will gradually complement each other. At present, our biggest source of manpower is fresh graduates.

Netease Technology: in terms of cost, when will China be able to catch up with the launch cost of SpaceX?

Peng Xiaobo: if our hyperbola 3 can be built, our cost control ability will be greatly improved, and it will be quite competitive in the world.

Netease Technology: about the time, can it be basically completed in two or three years?

Peng Xiaobo:We expect it to be 2024 or 2025.

Netease Technology: can commercial launch vehicle enterprises realize space tourism?

Peng Xiaobo: space tourism is completely possible. From the perspective of current technology, it is completely possible. There are listed companies in the United States doing this. Virgin Galactic, including blue origin, also has its space tourism programs and plans. From the perspective of our company, we will also have some technical products in the future.

Netease Technology: will it be difficult to realize?

Peng Xiaobo: in terms of time, all manned products have very high requirements for reliability and safety. In my opinion, from the perspective of engineering technology, although it is also a very difficult thing now, it does not mean that it is insurmountable. Its biggest challenge is that as a routine use project, it can be launched hundreds or even thousands of times a year, and it also needs to ensure its very high reliability. In fact, this is a very big challenge. After all, it is a tourism project. You can't think of it as a human exploration project, such as astronauts going to space or even to the moon. Its goals and significance are different. We must make it very reliable and safe. This is actually a challenge.

- THE END -

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