China sends five satellites to orbits in one-go launch onboard Long March-11 from sea
Published: Apr 30, 2022 12:12 PM
Photo: Courtesy of Shi Xiao

Photo: Courtesy of Shi Xiao

A Long March-11 carrier rocket lifted off at noon on Saturday off the coast of the East China Sea, successfully sending five Jilin-1 Gaofen satellites into preset orbits, marking the first time that China has realized a "one-stop" launch mode in near sea.

The Long March-11 rocket is China's only solid-fueled launch vehicle available both for land and sea launch, and it's known for its fast, convenient and flexible characteristics. It's also a pioneer in the field of commercial spaceflight in the country.

Li Tongyu, commander in chief of the rocket type, noted that in previous sea-borne launch missions, the rocket needed to complete one assembly test before being transported to the pier, and receive another test after it arrives, and the process was relatively complicated. 

This time, however, it was launched at the Haiyang Oriental Aerospace Port in Haiyang, East China's Shandong Province, which supports the rocket to be assembled, tested, docked with the satellites, and loaded on the launch vessel in only a few hours. After the vessel arrives at the designated spot, the rocket can be promptly launched, with the entire process taking merely three to four days. 

"In this way, it not only saves a considerable amount of preparation time by streamlining the process, and significantly reduced the cost," Li said. 

The Haiyang base is part of a comprehensive aerospace project. With an investment of 23 billion yuan ($3.5 billion) and a planned area of 1,860 hectares, the project includes an aerospace industrial park, a port for seaborne rocket launches, and an aerospace-themed tourist park.

The Global Times has learned from Haiyang officials that the new facility is capable of manufacturing 10 solid rockets a year, with construction underway to double that number.

The Long March-11 carrier rocket has achieved 10 consecutive successful land launches and three successful sea launches, creating a record of 13 consecutive victories.

China's first vessel to support satellite launches from the sea in particular is expected to be delivered this year, the Global Times learned from project insiders.