China is set to launch Rocket from sea-based platform

Gravity-1 will have the highest lift capability of any currently in use rocket in China’s emerging commercial space industry.

China is set to launch Rocket from sea-based platform

Orienspace, a Chinese rocket startup, is preparing for its first launch from a sea platform. CEO Yao Song informed provincial government officials in mid-April that the Gravity-1 rocket will launch from a mobile sea platform built as part of sea launch facilities developed at Haiyang in Shandong province during the second half of 2023.

Previous announcements suggest a launch in the fourth quarter. According to Yao, Orienspace has already received orders to launch hundreds of satellites and has been considered for a number of satellite constellations.

Three solid stages and four side boosters make up Gravity-1. Around 6,500 kilogrammes of payload can be launched by the rocket into low Earth orbit (LEO), or 3,700 kilogrammes into a 700-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). It will be the most powerful all-solid orbital launch vehicle in China and the entire world.

Additionally, Gravity-1 will have the highest lift capability of any currently in use rocket in China’s emerging commercial space industry.

The current commercial record was set earlier this month by Space Pioneer’s Tianlong-2, China’s first privately-operated liquid propellant rocket to enter orbit. 2,000 kilogrammes can be carried to LEO by Tianlong-2.

Founded in 2020, Orienspace has advanced quickly. The size of the first vehicle is much larger, reflecting changes in the market and potential customers, despite adhering to a pattern of first developing a solid rocket established by the earliest private launch startups in China.

The business has already been very active in 2023, raising $47 million in funding, as it revealed in January. In May of last year, Orienspace previously raised $59.9 million.

For the launch of several Jilin-1 Gaofen-05 series spacecraft, Orienspace and Changguang Satellite Technology Co. Ltd. (CGST) signed a contract on April 17.

The Changchun Institute of Optics, Fine Mechanics and Physics, a branch of the vast Chinese Academy of Sciences, has spun off CGST, a remote sensing satellite manufacturer and operator. The series will be the fourth generation of remote sensing satellite for CGST.

CGST revealed six months ago that it intended to increase the Jilin-1 constellation’s planned total of 138 satellites to 300 satellites. Additionally, the move calls for easier launch access.

Orienspace and Aerospace Hongtu, a division of Piesat Information Technology Co. Ltd., signed a strategic cooperation agreement on April 22. Four of the satellites being built by Aerospace Hongtu’s synthetic aperture radar constellation recently entered orbit on a Long March 2D.

Beyond that, Orienspace has bigger objectives. Gravity-1. Gravity-2’s liquid core stage and solid boosters will allow it to carry 15.5 tonnes into low-Earth orbit (LEO), 10.9 tonnes into a 500-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit (SSO), or 5.8 tonnes into a geostationary transfer orbit (GTO).

The 100-ton-thrust Yuanli-85 engine for the rocket’s gas generator was recently tested by Orienspace. A test flight is what the company hopes to achieve in 2025.

A similar-sized booster will be on either side of the centre core of Gravity-3. The company estimates that it will be capable of transporting 8 tonnes to lunar transfer orbit or 30.6 tonnes to LEO. Additionally recyclable will be the kerosene-liquid oxygen core stages. Currently, 2027 is assigned as the initial launch date.

The Medium and Large-scale Launch Vehicle Assembly Integration Test Center for Orienspace is anticipated to go online in the middle of the year.

Eventually, it will be able to produce 20 medium and large launch vehicles annually. One of the commercial launchers scheduled to launch this year is Gravity-1. More than 20 launches per year could potentially be added by commercial launch providers. These go beyond the main contractor for the nation’s plans to launch more than 60 times this year.