China Mobile Launch Platform Bears Fruits
China conducted the first rocket launch in its history from a floating platform drifting in the territorial waters of the country in the Yellow Sea, thus opening a new page in the history of its space industry.
How Was It?
In June 2019, China launched the Chang Zheng-11 WEY solid-fuel booster carrier from an offshore platform which was situated in the Yellow Sea. Moreover, it sent seven satellites to a given orbit as well. This fact establishes opening a new era of Chinese aerospace science.
The Chinese brand WEY has become the first business partner of CASC. Both sides called this carrier changer Chang Zheng-11 WEY, which marked a new breakthrough in the CASC business model. In addition, CASC and WEY jointly created the Joint Center for Innovative Technologies, which seeks to introduce technologies in the field of quality systems and autonomous driving technologies. Such cooperation leads to the fact that aerospace technologies can become more accessible in the near future.
The Chang Zheng-11 launch vehicle is the only solid fuel type of launch vehicles within the Changzheng family. Its length is 21 meters, and weight – 58 tons. With a take-off load of 120 tons, it can deliver up to 500 kg of payloads to a sun-synchronous orbit at an altitude of 500 km. The Chang Zheng WEY launch from the sea represents a breakthrough in a number of key technologies including remote control, independent security control, and targeting a mobile base launching from the sea. The Chinese Chang Zheng-11 booster rocket was not only launched for the first time from an offshore platform and into a small inclination orbit but also created a new mode for launching Chinese launch vehicles into space.
In conjunction with the launch of the CASC and WEY launch vehicle, they are constantly developing technology cooperation. Both sides will develop the integration in four areas, including the quality system and testing, autonomous driving technology, the use of new materials and the development of hydrogen energy. They are determined to expand the capabilities of independent research and development, as well as to create broader market opportunities and economic value for the CASC.
The satellites of the Space Technology Academy of China will monitor the winds over the oceans to determine the chance of typhoon formation more accurately. Two vehicles of the Beijing 125 China company were among the rest of the satellites on board.
Experts explained that launching a vehicle from the sea has more advantages than launching from the land. These benefits include energy and fuel savings, because the closer the launch site is to the equator, the more it can pick up speed, which in turn can help save on the resources needed for a space flight.
It is worth noting that there were several projects in which rockets did launch from the sea in the history of cosmonautics. Such an approach is technologically more complex, but it has significant advantages that have been mentioned above. Sea Launch, in the development of which engineers from Yuzhnoye Design Bureau and other Ukrainian enterprises participated, was among such projects.
These advantages explain why China became the leader in the number of space launches and decided to use the concept of a sea launch. Judging by the data provided, the floating cosmodrome developed by CASC is a semi-submerged sea platform 110 meters long and almost 80 meters wide. And the launch complex is almost in the center of the platform, where the rocket is fixed in the port. Now, the project involves a four-stage solid-fuel rocket Chang Zheng-11. It is capable of outputting a weight of up to 700 kilograms to low near-earth orbit, but according to CASC, the platform will also be adapted for rockets with liquid-propellant rocket engines in the future.