Author Topic: China mulls launching small sat launcher from a container ship  (Read 998 times)

Online Galactic Penguin SST

In a Users' Conference of Long March rockets for Domestic Commercial Launches hosted by CGWIC today, amidst news of introducing the CZ-8 and 3 stage CZ-7 Heavy and piggyback launch services, there's some surprising news that the Chinese are mulling over providing small satellite services from the sea from 2018!

The rocket involved is almost certainly the Long March 11, as it's a CALT project and that it will use a solid powered rocket. The CALT official reported that this is aimed at the very low orbit inclination LEO satellite market, with capabilities of up to 500 kg up to a 500 km high LEO, inclination 0 to 10 degrees (think RazakSat). He reported that using a solid propellant rocket "....would only require the use of a 10000 tonne class container ship as the launch base". Proof-of-concept tests would start later this year.

Wait a minute, there's an equatorial LEO satellite market?  :o

Source: http://www.chinanews.com/gn/2017/07-06/8271070.shtml

Chinese spaceflight is a cosmic riddle wrapped in a galactic mystery inside an orbital enigma... - (not) Winston Churchill

Offline SmallKing

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Online Asteroza

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Well, no chinese buyers for SeaLaunch Odyssey and Commander vessels then...


That said, equatorial LEO as a market sounds like a niche for tech demonstrators, if you run with the theory that raw $/kg is connected to on-orbit payload, which is boosted by equatorial launch. So lots of smallsats/cubesats testing everything under the sun at first glance sounds interesting, but runs into the problem of customer ground stations to monitor experiments (but Spaceflight Industries is doing that timeshare ground station network so that isn't horrible). Assuming the tech demo niche isn't better represented by SSO launch for constant solar power...

But why is the inclination so limited considering it's an ocean launch? Downrange tracking asset issue? Suitable mooring locations (since the shown barge has big mooring winches, so is currently not a DP2 or DP3 semisubmersible ship like SeaLaunch Odyssey) perhaps?

Operational experience for moving other Long March hardware to ocean launch is the probable aim here. Are they planning a one-two setup of a launch ship and a landing barge similar to SpaceX? There used to be ships that could lift whole barges onto the deck over the stern with a crane or submersible elevator, so self deploying a landing barge over the the pad/reaction frame/flame bucket isn't horrific either.

Online Lars-J

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You would think it would make much more sense to set up a tiny launch pad at Wenchang for the CZ-11?

The difference in performance from launching at a site so far south as Wenchang when compared to the equator is pretty small.

So why do it from a ship? Just to prove you can? I mean I guess it is a useful military capability to have a moving launch site, but what real military payloads can it lift with such a small capacity?

Offline zhangmdev

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Do you think China has no Pork project? They spent trillions to build hundreds of coal fire power plants just sitting there idle. Why couldn't they have some ship to launch rockets at sea? There are tons of money sloshing around. Capital investment is the ends not the means. So it doesn't have to make any sense.

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