China expects to launch liquid rockets from the sea

TALIN, Estonia – Chinese state-owned and commercial companies are developing opportunities to launch liquid rockets from offshore platforms to increase the country’s launch capabilities.

China has already demonstrated the ability to launch a Long March 11 solid-propellant rocket from offshore platforms. This was facilitated by a new spaceport near Haiyang in the eastern coastal province of Shandong.

Now private firms including Orienspace and the state-of-the-art Chinese Academy of Launch Technologies (CALT) are developing larger Gravity Series liquid missiles and adapted Long March 8 launchers for marine launches.

Haiyan Seaport attracts a number of space companies and promotes the industrial network. So far using reprofiled vessels, the “new type missile vessel” is 162.5 meters long and 40 meters wide under construction and is expected to facilitate its first launch in 2022.

RSpace, launching a liquid rocket component, now construction workshop for the production and testing of storage tanks and liquid structures of 230-acre missile hulls in Haiyan with a planned total investment of $ 119 million.

The project has received support from the city and the province and is listed as a key project for Shandong. The development points to a concerted attempt to support liquid marine launches, and its proximity will alleviate missile transportation problems for customers.

The company recently conducted thermal insulation tests on fuel tanks with a diameter of 3.35 meters.

Potential customers are Orienspace, which was founded in late 2020 and has grown $ 47 million and $ 59.9 million in previous rounds of funding for Serie A and A this year.

The company currently aims to launch its Gravity-1 solid-propellant rocket in mid-2023. Next – a launcher with gas-liquid oxygen “Gravity-2”.

Galactic Energy, a private launcher service provider, plans to launch its third Ceres-1 solid-propellant rocket in the next few months and may experience an offshore launch by the end of the year.

It is unknown whether the company is in development Palade-1 The kerolox rocket will be adapted for naval launch. The Pallas-1 test flight is currently scheduled for early 2023.

Similarly, CALT recently set up a nearby base for final assembly and testing, which was first used in May to support the long March 11 marine launch commercial remote sensing satellites.

CALT, one of China’s two major state-of-the-art launch vehicle manufacturers and operators operating under China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp., is now also considering adapting its new Long March 8th gas-liquid-oxygen launcher for marine launch.

“This breakthrough in marine launch technology will allow China to launch medium and large satellites and constellations“ both on land and at sea, ”especially in low-tilt orbits around the Earth, and it will allow China to remain competitive in the fast-growing space industry. », 2021 paper in the Chinese Journal of Aeronautics.

The article examines the prospects of marine launches for the reusable version of Long March 8, which has not yet flown, describing the promising launcher as “a cheap, very reliable and easy-to-use vehicle redesigned for the commercial market, preferably for marine launches.”

According to the authors, further research is needed on the safety control of the launch pad and the stages of discharge of spent stages of the missile, but also note less restrictions on the launch and recovery of reusable launchers at sea.

Wenchang Cosmodrome on Hainan Island could potentially host offshore launches, and construction has recently begun new launch complex for commercial launch.

In recent years, China’s launch rate has increased rapidly. In 2015, China launched 19 times, all with Long March missiles. Last year the country held 55 launchesincluding missions from commercial actors.

The country has expanded the Jiuquan satellite launch center in the Gobi Desert to accommodate solid and liquid commercial missiles to meet growing demand for launches, and has set up Haiyang for offshore launches.

Wenchang and the town Ningbo also develop commercial launch centers. China expects to launch liquid rockets from the sea

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