Alibaba to deliver parcels globally within 1 hour using rockets

  • The Taobao online store, which is part of the Alibaba Group, intends to deliver packages to its customers worldwide in the future using reusable rockets from the Space Epoch startup.
  • The goal is to ship goods anywhere in the world within an hour.
  • Space Epoch has completed three funding rounds of more than US$41.5 million, from investors that include GSR Vision Capital and Jinsha Capital.

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding is teaming up with a rocket developer startup Space Epoch with the ambitious goal of delivering packages to anywhere in the world within an hour.

The great plan

The experiment, which will be conducted by Alibaba’s Taobao marketplace and Beijing-based startup Space Epoch, will be carried out in the “near future” using a reusable rocket that can land at sea, according to a Sunday post by Space Epoch on its official WeChat account.

Over the past few years, Space Epoch has been developing reusable rockets capable of delivering cargo to near-Earth orbit. The company’s rockets are 64 meters long and can deliver payloads of up to 6.5 tonnes into a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 1,100 kilometers. The company estimates that a rocket can be used up to 20 times.

According to Taobao’s plan, the online platform will be able to use these rockets for express delivery of goods worldwide. It is envisaged that tons of cargo will be delivered on one rocket in special containers.

But the company admitted that it “won’t be easy to achieve the goal in the short term”. “This should be a great and significant exploration for a long term”, it said.

Testing and trials of individual rocket elements are currently underway.

Also read: Alibaba drops Hong Kong IPO plan for logistics unit Cainiao

Fierce competition in online shopping

Alibaba has been improving its logistics services amid fierce competition at home and abroad.

In March this year, Alibaba extended its “five-day delivery” service overseas, where buyers of goods on AliExpress can receive their orders within five days, with Alibaba’s logistics arm Cainiao taking care of the delivery.

Alibaba therefore is exploring new ways to improve its competitiveness.

Financing received by Space Epoch

Till now, Space Epoch has completed three funding rounds of more than 300 million yuan (US$41.5 million). Investors included GSR Vision Capital and Jinsha Capital.

Jennifer-Yu

Jennifer Yu

Jennifer Yu is an intern reporter at BTW Media covering artificial intelligence and internet governance. She graduated from The University of Hong Kong with a Master’s degree in Journalism. Send tips to j.yu@btw.media.

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