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China’s satellite start-ups vie for private contracts

来源:FT中文网    2017-12-01 07:24

        Roger Zhang rejects the title of China’s Elon Musk, bestowed on him by Chinese media.        张昌武(Roger Zhang)拒绝接受中国媒体授予他的称号:中国的埃隆•马斯克(Elon Musk)。
        The chief executive of Landspace — one of the handful of Chinese start-ups building satellite-launching rockets — Mr Zhang prefers to operate quietly, out of the limelight.         这位蓝箭(Landspace)首席执行官更喜欢低调运营,远离聚光灯。该公司是中国为数不多的建造卫星运载火箭的初创企业之一。
        “Building this kind of technology is slow going. We do not want to unveil anything until we are absolutely sure it can work successfully,” he says.         他表示:“这种技术的积累是缓慢的。我们不想在绝对确定它能成功之前透露任何消息。”
        In 2014, China formally announced it would allow private companies to build and launch satellites, unleashing a flood of Chinese entrepreneurs looking to tap into the $420bn global satellite industry. Yet these first-movers have proceeded cautiously, a stark contrast to the glitzy coverage sought out by US space start-ups such as Mr Musk’s SpaceX.         2014年,中国正式宣布,将允许民营企业建造和发射卫星,这让大量中国企业家跃跃欲试地想要进入4200亿美元的全球卫星行业。然而,这些先行者一直谨慎推进,这与马斯克的SpaceX等美国航天初创企业想要的抢眼的新闻报道形成鲜明对比。
        Dozens of satellite-related companies have emerged over the past three years, but they are treading carefully, according to Lan Tianyi, who operates one of the country’s first private satellite consultancies, Ultimate Blue Nebula.        据中国首批民营卫星咨询公司之一北京千域空天(Ultimate Blue Nebula)的首席执行官蓝天翼介绍,过去3年出现了数十家卫星相关企业,但它们都行事谨慎。
        “The whole aerospace industry used to be very secretive, because it was dominated by the government and military. [It] was not very popular among companies because it has a high risk of failure,” says Mr Lan.         他表示:“整个航天业过去行事非常隐秘,因为它由政府和军队主导。(这一行)在企业中不是很受欢迎,因为破产风险很高。”
        Rather than seeking government or military clients, aerospace start-ups largely are vying for lucrative commercial satellite contracts. Once dominated by companies from the US and Russia, the commercial space is attracting newcomers from China and India jostling for a slice of the multibillion-dollar pie.         航天初创企业没有寻求政府或军方客户,而是基本上在争夺有利可图的商业卫星合约。曾经被美国和俄罗斯公司霸占的商业航天领域,正吸引来自中国和印度的新进入者,它们希望从这张巨额营收的大饼中分得一小块。
        In China’s space sector, the number of orbital launches has increased since 2010, bringing the total number of satellites launched from the country in the past 50 years to about 190. Private companies say they plan to launch more than 20 satellites in each of the next two years. China has a 3 per cent share of the commercial space industry but is seeking to capture 10 per cent by 2020, according to state media.         在中国航天业,自2010年以来发射入轨的数量有所增多,使过去50年发射的卫星总数达到190颗左右。民营公司表示,它们计划在未来两年每年发射超过20颗卫星。据官方媒体称,中国占全球商业航天业3%的份额,但希望到2020年拿下10%。
        China’s space entrepreneurs are primarily launching CubeSats — tiny satellites that are comparably cheap to make and can be launched en masse. They typically are used in universities for research purposes but also can be rapidly launched to support telecoms networks and rising demand for remote sensing and imaging.         中国航天企业家主要发射“立方体卫星”(CubeSat),这种微型卫星的建造成本相对低廉,而且可大批发射。它们一般用于大学的研究用途,但也可以紧急发射,以支持电信网络以及对遥感和遥感成像日益增长的需求。
        With their lower launch costs, private satellite providers also are aiming to send up more sophisticated satellites to support telecoms systems that would rival networks run by western companies. Meanwhile, the government is developing the Beidou navigation system, pitching it as a Chinese alternative to the Global Positioning System (GPS) owned and operated by the US.        由于发射成本较低,民营卫星供应商还计划发射更高级的卫星,以支持能够抗衡西方公司运行的网络的电信系统。与此同时,中国政府正在开发北斗导航系统,称其可替代美国拥有和运行的全球定位系统(GPS)。
        Commenting on the importance of self-contained, vertically independent communication networks, Keith Hayward, former head of research at the Royal Aeronautical Society in the UK, notes: “You’re not beholden to anybody to gain access to the system. You can configure the communication for military deployments and to encrypt upward and downward links to your satisfaction.”        英国皇家航空学会(Royal Aeronautical Society)前研究部门负责人基思•海沃德(Keith Hayward)在谈到自成一体、垂直独立的通信网络的重要性时指出:“你接入这个系统不受制于任何人。你可以配置通信用于军事部署并加密上行和下行链路,直到你满意。”
        While Chinese satellite providers have found numerous customers in the developing world, they have encountered pushback from western countries, particularly from the US government, which controls the export and import of satellites above a certain capacity.         尽管中国卫星提供商在发展中国家找到了很多客户,但它们遭遇西方国家的阻力,尤其是美国政府,后者控制着某种能力以上的卫星的进出口。
        In June, Canadian regulators came under fire for approving the sale of Norsat — a Canadian satellite company that provides services to many government bodies including the US defence department — to Shenzhen-based Hytera Communications.         今年6月,加拿大监管机构因批准将加拿大卫星公司诺赛特(Norsat)出售给总部位于深圳的海能达(Hytera Communications)而受到批评,诺赛特向很多政府机构提供服务,包括美国国防部。
        “One thing I think outsiders get wrong is they always suspect Chinese space companies must have something to do with the military,” says Mr Yang Feng, the chief executive officer of satellite-maker Spacety. “However, we just want to make commercial technology like anyone else.” Spacety says all of its funding comes from private venture capital funds.         “我认为外部人士搞错的一点是他们总是认为中国航天公司肯定与军队有关,”卫星制造商天仪研究院(Spacety)首席执行官杨峰表示,“然而,我们只是希望像其他人一样生产商用技术。”天仪研究院表示,其所有资金都来自民营风投基金。
        “I don’t think you can make a clear distinction between Chinese civil and military space,” says Mr Hayward. “The emphasis on Chinese space is how it serves the Chinese state.”         “我不认为,你能把中国民用航天和军事航天明显区分开来,”海沃德表示,“中国航天事业的着重点是为国家服务。”
        Nearly all of China’s space start-ups are run by veterans of the country’s top military-affiliated research institutes and state aerospace companies. However, China’s space entrepreneurs insist their priority is commercial, not military.         中国几乎所有航天初创企业都是由国内顶尖的军方下属研究所和国有航天企业的老将执掌的。然而,中国航天企业家坚称,优先任务是商业,而非军事。
        “We took no intellectual property from the government. We brought only our minds,” says Mr Zhang of Landspace.         蓝箭的张昌武表示:“我们没有从政府那里带走知识产权。我们带来的只有我们的头脑。”
        Space analysts point out, though, that Landspace’s rockets mirror Long March 11 rockets, designed by state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.         然而,航天分析人士指出,蓝箭的火箭与“长征11号”火箭类似,后者由国有的中国航天科技集团公司(China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation)设计。
        Moreover, the rapid development of China’s private space industry is part of the government’s push to integrate civilian and military co-operation in technology. The hope is that the more nimble private sector can develop technologies to support the country’s growing space programme, which aims to put a person on the moon by about 2030.        另外,中国民营航天业的快速发展是政府推动军民两用技术联盟合作努力的一部分。政府希望更灵活的民营部门能够开发相关技术,支持中国日益远大的航天项目。中国计划在2030年左右实现航天员登月。
        “We can develop more experimental nanosatellite technology more quickly and cheaply than state companies,” says Spacety’s Mr Yang.        蓝箭的张昌武表示:“相比国有企业,我们能够以更快且成本更低廉的方式,开发更多试验性纳米卫星技术。”

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