Chinese Company Aerospace Launched Record-breaking Rocket “Gravity-1”

On January 11, 2024, the “Gravity-1” launch vehicle, equipped with seven large-thrust solid rocket engines from the Fourth Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, successfully ascended from the sea near Haiyang, Shandong. The launch successfully deployed three satellites, Yunyao No.18-20, into their predestined orbits.

The “Gravity-1” launch vehicle, developed by Orienspace (Shandong) Co., Ltd., set a few notable records. It achieved the highest launch thrust for a solid rocket globally and introduced the first-ever solid bundle (solid core stage + solid booster) launch vehicle in China and the world. This event also marked China’s first successful sea launch of a bundled configuration launch vehicle. Interestingly, the launch mass and thrust of “Gravity-1” surpassed those of the currently most powerful solid rocket, the European Space Agency’s “Vega-C,” by 195 tons and 141 tons, respectively.

The rocket’s design incorporates a three-and-a-half-stage configuration, consisting of a first, second, and third stage solid core engine, accompanied by four solid boosters bundled around the first stage. This makes it the first medium-sized launch vehicle globally with a solid core stage bundled with solid boosters.

At present, “Gravity-1” ranks among the commercial rockets with the most satellite launch cooperation agreements in China. Yao Song, co-founder and joint CEO of Orienspace, views the rocket market as one that’s rapidly expanding. He suggests that the industry lacks direct competition and that companies could secure ample satellite internet launch orders until 2030, provided they can manufacture reliable and cost-effective rockets.

According to data from the Satellite Industry Association (SIA), the global satellite industry generated revenue of 1.98374 trillion yuan in 2021, with projections suggesting a rise to 3.87217 trillion yuan by 2025. Satellite internet is poised to be a key technology for the next-generation mobile communication network, with the potential to achieve global network coverage in the 6G era. In recent years, the satellite internet has emerged as a vital area of technological competition globally. The race for low-orbit constellation “networking” is intensifying, and given the limited resources in terms of frequency and orbit, the advancement of China’s satellite internet infrastructure is on the horizon.

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