Reading Shu Chang’s experience of building rockets in the company, the deepest feeling I have is that we need to be bolder and more objective in understanding space, and we need to be bolder and more objective in understanding ourselves. The original title of this article was “20 Minutes from Beijing to Guangzhou on a Rocket”. Long Yuxuan, the executive editor of “readCEO”, reposted this article with the approval and authorization of Dr. Shu Chang, the founder of Zero One Space. Founders are welcome to pay attention to Zero One Space and support China’s private self-developed commercial rockets.
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At 7:33 on May 17, 2018, One Space Technology Co., Ltd. OS-X rocket “Chongqing Two Rivers Star” was successfully launched at the Northwest Base of China. This is China’s first privately-owned self-developed commercial rocket. Its maiden flight has attracted widespread attention and the founder Shu Chang has won a lot of applause.
After the first flight was successful, Shu Chang was busier than before. Various researches, investigations and media interviews followed one after another. “The first flight is the success of commercial rockets from 0 to 1. In the future, we will have more technologies and more Innovation from 0 to 1”. Recently, Shu Chang accepted an exclusive interview with our reporter in Beijing.
Shu Chang has set a rule that he is not allowed to be called “General Manager” in the company, but by his first name. Whoever calls him “General Manager Shu” must give out red envelopes in the company group. As the founder and CEO of the company, Shu Chang did not set up a separate office for himself. Instead, like other employees, he has a small “lattice” in the huge office area. This 32-year-old young man has a solid technical background, the meticulous logic of a science man, good eloquence and unassuming sincerity.
“What we want to create is a culture of equality and straightforwardness.” Shu Chang believes that innovation is the life of a commercial rocket company, and innovation is easy to be questioned from the beginning, so we should encourage everyone to show their views. Therefore, only when the entire company has formed a protective atmosphere of “speaking straight”, will everyone dare to speak out.
When he founded the company in 2015, Shu Chang was only 29 years old. Why was he? Why build a rocket? This starts with the entrepreneurial dream that Shu Chang planted in college. Shu Chang studied aircraft design at Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics as an undergraduate. He felt that designing fighter jets was particularly cool, so he studied fighter jet design. He studied very hard in college. At that time, he spent time in the library, reading books on economics, history, and even medicine.
“Frankly speaking, I was very confused at that time and didn’t know what I was suitable for in the future, so I only read books every day.” Shu Chang analyzed himself seriously: He has the logical thinking ability of a science and engineering man, is good at speech, and is good at dealing with people. The overall quality is better. Concluded: “I am suitable for entrepreneurship.” In the second semester of sophomore, Shu Chang determined that he wanted to start a business and immediately started to try.
The university used to start a business as a takeaway platform
The first time I started my business was a summer camp. Shu Chang combined the resources of his high school alma mater and Beijing colleges and universities, and the summer camp activities were a success. Later, Shu Chang discovered the need for college students to sell out. Many students thought that eating out was a waste of time. If they were given meals and added some errands, they would accept it. After conducting research on the demand for take-out for college students, Shu Chang brought some friends from his hometown and started his own business to deliver food.
“At that time, I didn’t know the Internet, so I relied on PHS and bought and delivered it after receiving the order, adding one or two errands for each order.” After working for a while, Shu Chang found that he couldn’t do it anymore. He believes that this entrepreneurial failure was due to his lack of ability, lack of knowledge of the Internet and lack of financing. But this experience allowed Shu Chang to strengthen his determination to start a business.
After graduating from undergraduate, in order to make up for the “shortcomings” of not understanding the economy and investment and financing, Shu Chang entered the Guanghua School of Management of Peking University to study for a master’s degree in economics. During his master’s degree at Peking University, Shu Chang was keen to go to the lecture hall to listen to entrepreneurs’ speeches. , And strive to obtain the capital and resources needed for entrepreneurship while motivating oneself.
Commercial rocket from 0 to 1
After graduating with a master’s degree, Shu Chang joined the Aerospace Science and Technology Group, mainly responsible for industrial investment. At the end of 2014, the state issued a document to allow social capital to enter the field of satellite research and development. The “military-civilian integration development” rose to the national strategic level, and China’s commercial aerospace policy window was gradually opened. Shu Chang keenly sniffed the trend of commercial aerospace. He wanted to invest in a private aerospace company, but after looking around, he found that there was no such company in the market. “Why can’t I do it myself?”
In August 2015, Shu Chang began to form a team. Now Shu Chang’s president, Ma Chao, is Shu Chang’s senior at Beihang University and his counselor. After graduating from his PhD, he joined the China Academy of Launch Vehicles and has been engaged in major national scientific research projects. He is already a young leader trained by the unit in his early thirties. Ma Chao agrees with Shu Chang’s plan to build his own rocket, but because he has a sense of accomplishment in what he does, he rejected Shu Chang at first.
In the end, what made Ma Chao determined to join was difficulties and setbacks. Many people are dismissive of Shu Chang’s need to build his own rockets. “Don’t compare it with the United States. With different national conditions, it is impossible for China to build private rockets.” This irritated Ma Chao. He told Shu Chang, “I didn’t think this was too challenging before. Now we have to hit this rocket into the sky.”
Today, Shu Chang’s team has more than 120 people, most of whom are born after 85. Shu Chang is thirsty for talent, and the company is still hiring a large number of people. “We need smart people, because people who like to use their brains always have innovative ideas.” What moved Shu Chang the most was that a colleague once took his hand and said, “No matter how many difficulties I encounter, I will definitely follow. The company goes down.”
Take the road of independent research and development
The rocket’s research and development requires a lot of funds. After forming the team, Shu Chang’s biggest problem is financing. “When I heard that we were going to build a rocket, some people even regarded me as a liar.” Talking about his early financing experience, Shu Chang said frankly that he touched a lot of nails. “At that time, I was only 29 years old with a baby face and said that I wanted to build a commercial rocket in China. It was normal for others to think it was unreliable.” Shu Chang calmly reviewed the embarrassment at that time, “Fortunately, we have survived every stage.”
After the establishment of the company, Shu Chang led the team to immediately start the design and certification. They believe that “wearing new shoes and walking the old road” will be the end of commercial aerospace. Shu Chang decided to go on the road of independent research and development, which means a long time. The “black technology” on the first rocket is the best return for the team. “The engine, integrated control machine, wireless communication, flight control software, etc. are all independently developed by us. It can be said that the heart, brain, We control the cerebellum by ourselves.”
Half a month before the first flight, the core R&D team has been stationed at the launch site and began to make high-intensity preparations. It is common to leave work in the middle of the night or even overnight. During this time, a colleague had his birthday. When everyone put out the birthday cake, this colleague Nosebleed. After the first flight was successful, everyone in the R&D team cried, and the rocket made by himself flew into the sky. This sense of accomplishment was unparalleled.
Shu Chang is very concerned about the company’s name. When naming the company at the beginning, Shu Chang thought about it. One night Shu Chang lay in bed with a book in his hand. It was “From 0 to 1”, which was popular in the venture capital circle. In the book, he believed that one must have dreams and continue Innovation makes the future unique and better. Only from 0 to 1 can we create unlimited value.
At that time, Shu Chang decided on the company’s name-Zero One Space, from 0 to 1 for commercial rockets in China, and from 0 to 1 for commercial rocket innovation. With this idea, Shu Chang excitedly sent a WeChat to many people in the middle of the night, asking them what they thought of the name. Many people thought it was good, and some suggested him. Apple is so good, you might as well be called Pear, which is very characteristic. It is also easy to remember.
But Shu Chang believes that the name was originally meaningless, because the company is worthy and it is recognized by everyone, and the name is valuable. “Turning an otherwise meaningless name into a name recognized by everyone is a sense of accomplishment as an entrepreneur.”
Let the rocket be a vehicle
After the first flight was successful, some people called it the “Chinese version of Space X”, while Shu Chang believed that he was taking a path of differentiation from Space X. “The small solid launch vehicles we are currently making are mainly aimed at small satellites under 500 kilograms, and Space X is aimed at large satellites over one ton.”
At present, Shuchang Company has two series of rockets, M and X. The M series launch vehicle provides launch services for small satellite customers; the X series rocket is a special flight test platform tailored for aerospace technology verification, which has successfully filled China’s space flight Test professional, open, low-cost booster rocket blanks, comprehensively assisting the practice and transformation of cutting-edge aerospace technology. Shu Chang told reporters that the company has at least three rocket launch plans this year.
In fact, Shu Chang wants to be Huawei in the aerospace field. “This is in line with China’s national conditions. We don’t create dreams. We are pragmatic and hope that it can really change the lives of many people.”
For the public, rocket launches and aerospace are mysterious and remote. Can launching commercial rockets bring convenience to the public? For this question, Shu Chang explained with examples. For example, rockets launched satellite signals to solve the problem of surfing the Internet in airplanes and the sea. This has been achieved so far.
“Be bolder to imagine. A rocket will only take about 20 minutes to fly from Beijing to Guangzhou. If we lower the cost, can rockets become a popular means of transportation?” Shu Chang firmly believes that rockets will replace aircraft in the future. Innovation will bring about change.
In order to realize his dream, as the founder, Shu Chang spends almost all of his time at work. He is at work 18 hours a day, six days a week, and often flies around on business trips. On the most conspicuous position of Shu Chang’s desk is the rocket model they developed. Next to the model, there are photos of a family of three. Shu Chang is holding his daughter and next to his wife, smiling brightly.
“A few days ago, there was an event under the overpass where you could sing on stage. My 4-year-old daughter didn’t dare to go up, so I went up to sing and encouraged her after singing.” Although she didn’t have much time to accompany her daughter because of her busy work, she was comfortable. Try to make yourself a role model for your children, “I hope she can be proud of having a dad who works hard for her dream.”