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Chapter 691: Compet.i.tor
The bidding conference was finished.
After Lu Zhou’s presentation, many other research inst.i.tutes and aeros.p.a.ce companies demonstrated their technology in the form of a powerpoint. Even though there were some designs that were even more ridiculous than Lu Zhou’s presentation, no one had any desire to complain.
Just like this, the bidding conference came to an end.
After the conference ended, Lu Zhou went into his hotel room and took a shower. Then, he made phone calls to all the business cards he was given a while ago. Finally, he called Chen Yushan and told her about the bet he made at the conference.
Strictly speaking, this wasn’t an official bet with Academician Yuan. After all, it was meaningless to make a bet with a chief engineer. Even if he won, it wasn’t like he could take over China Aeros.p.a.ce Science and Technology Corporation.
Instead, this was just an oral agreement that had a gambling nature.
Which was, for the bidding scheme of the 50-ton low-Earth orbit delivery, the “finished product” would be used instead of the bidding doc.u.ments. Or in other words, the first person who proved that they had the ability to put a 50-ton load into low-Earth orbit could win the project bidding, provided their price was reasonable.
This funding would probably be around 9-12 billion yuan.
Even though this was only an oral agreement, it was acknowledged by the leaders.h.i.+p teams from the State Administration for National Defense and the China Aeros.p.a.ce Science and Industry Corporation, and it was written into the conference transcript. In some sense, it was enforceable.
After all, aside from the bet being made in front of so many colleagues, if Star Sky Technology could really produce an advanced ion thruster propulsion like the one shown on their PowerPoint presentation, there was no reason for the State Administration for National Defense not to choose Star Sky Technology.
No matter which bidder would win this compet.i.tion, the buyer would always win.
Of course, it wasn’t easy for Star Sky Technology to face off against such a giant aeros.p.a.ce company. Because the 500-ton liquid oxygen kerosene engine had been basically developed, if they worked hard enough, they might be able to build the Long March 9 in advance.
Regardless, Lu Zhou still had a chance to win.
Now that the miniaturized controllable fusion technology and Hall-effect thruster propulsion units had been completed, the design of the s.p.a.ce shuttle had entered its final stage. As long as Lu Zhou had enough funding, he was certain that Xiao Ai and his a.s.sembly center could live up to his expectations.
After he told Chen Yushan what had happened, he started to get criticized by her.
“Why didn’t you tell me this in advance?”
Lu Zhou sighed and said, “I couldn’t make a call at the conference venue since they confiscated my phone. There was no way I could contact you.”
Chen Yushan sat in her office chair and said, “Your decision is too hasty… Do you know what this means for us?”
Even though Star Sky Technology’s research and development prospects seemed pretty good, they were inferior when compared to the giant that was the China Aeros.p.a.ce Science and Technology Corporation. Especially when it came to the aeros.p.a.ce field, they simply weren’t in the same weight cla.s.s.
Forget about the technical reserves and industrial production capabilities, in terms of launch experience alone, China Aeros.p.a.ce Science and Technology Corporation had a huge advantage over Star Sky Technology.
Otherwise, why would other companies give up so quickly? Instead, other companies placed their focus on other smaller bids, such as the lunar module, the astronaut life-support equipment, etc.
In terms of low-Earth orbit delivery capabilities, there wasn’t a single company that had the confidence to defeat the “500-ton-cla.s.s liquid oxygen kerosene engine”, let alone the confidence to defeat the “Long March 9”.
This was the power of China Aeros.p.a.ce Science and Technology Corporation!
Lu Zhou’s finger gently tapped on his armrest. He finished listening to Chen Yushan’s complaints before saying, “But this is the best way, if this were a normal bid, unless we heavily reduced the price, it would be difficult to beat them.”
Actually, it wasn’t just difficult, it was near-impossible.
Most of the experts and scholars in the aeros.p.a.ce industry didn’t believe Lu Zhou could do it.
Most importantly, the State Administration for National Defense was obviously not as interested in the ion thruster propulsion system as they were in the miniaturized controllable fusion devices…
Chen Yushan sighed and couldn’t help but say, “The best way is to abandon this bid. If you want to build a s.p.a.ce shuttle… we can slowly acc.u.mulate experience from smaller launch missions. After that, we can think about partic.i.p.ating in large projects like this.”
From the perspective of a CEO, this was the most appropriate approach.
There was no reason to pursue a project with risks that outweighed its benefits.
As a matter of fact, being able to create the miniaturized controllable fusion reactor was amazing enough.
After the Navy Equipment Research Inst.i.tute finished improving the small controllable fusion reactors, many military companies would pay to get this technology in their hands. Even though their income from the national defense patents was limited, they could easily earn back their research cost.
Also, there was something else that Chen Yushan was worried about.
After hearing Lu Zhou’s explanation, she sighed and said, “What kind of bank will grant an 8 billion yuan loan for a project like this! Unless you want to sell your East Asia Energy shares, there is no way we have that kind of money.”
“Uh… I actually already solved the money part, you don’t have to worry about it.”
“I’m telling you, without money… Wait, what?” Chen Yushan paused for two seconds before gasping in disbelief. “You solved it?”
“Yeah.” Lu Zhou nodded and said, “Alibaba is willing to contribute part of it… in the form of an investment.”
Accepting this investment meant that after the project was completed, Alibaba would recover their investment and also take a certain percentage of the funds given by the State Administration for National Defense. However, Lu Zhou wasn’t very concerned with the profits.
After all, there were plenty of s.p.a.ce activities to be done in the future, and the moon landing was only a tiny portion.
The phone went silent for a few seconds.
After a while, Chen Yushan murmured, “Are they crazy…”
“Maybe,” Lu Zhou shrugged and jokingly said, “but I think they’re quite confident that we can win this bet, so I think you should be more confident as well.”
Actually, even if Star Sky Technology lost this bet, they wouldn’t lose too much.
After all, in the early days of the aeros.p.a.ce industry, the state announced policies in regard to aeros.p.a.ce investment funding. Funds invested in aeros.p.a.ce projects were able to enjoy tax deductions.
Since Lu Zhou didn’t want to change his mind, Chen Yushan didn’t try to convince him. She sighed and said, “Okay then, I won’t convince you otherwise. Just… I will help you cut down costs as much as possible… without affecting the quality and progress of the project.”
Lu Zhou smiled and nodded.