China on Thursday reportedly launched a Orienspace Gravity-1 (YL-1) carrier #rocket into space from waters off the coast of Haiyang, east China’s Shandong Province, sending 3 satellites into the low earth orbit. The launch marked the first flight mission of the YL-1 “commercial” carrier rocket.
Here is a brief video of the Gravity-1 launch.
Everyday Astronaut posted a pre-launch preview which describes the rocket as follows.
The Gravity-1 rocket is an all-solid launch vehicle developed and operated by the Chinese commercial aerospace company OrienSpace. The rocket comprises three stages and four side boosters and stands 42 meters tall with a diameter of 3.35 meters. The 260-tonne vehicle can place 6.5 tonnes into a low-Earth orbit and 4.2 tonnes into a high-inclination Sun-synchronous orbit.
Being the most powerful all-solid launch vehicle, Gravity-1 will lift off with 5,880 kN of thrust from the DeFu-15002 barge, which will be stationed in the East China Sea. Stage one consists of four large strap-on solid rocket boosters. Stage two uses the same booster but with a nozzle optimized for the lower pressure during this portion of the flight. Stage three has a shorter version of this motor (and therefore is less powerful), and stage four has an even smaller solid motor. In the future, an upgraded version of the vehicle (Gravity-1A) will replace the stage four motor with a small liquid-fueled stage. Even further down the line, the Gravity-2 rocket will be a Falcon 9-size liquid-fueled launch vehicle.
It is a great blessing for Orienspace that China’s equivalent of the Fish & Wildlife Service knows its place and is not going to be stopping all barge launches for an indefinite period while it takes a poll of fish in the neighborhood of the launch location.
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