China Aerospace to Conduct Sea Launch Test within This Year

Tang Yagang, vice head of the aerospace division of the No.1 institute of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC), recently revealed in Beijing that China would conduct sea launch tests within the year and eyed for providing commercial sea launch services starting from 2018.

During the Long March Commercial Launch Users Conference, Tang Yagang introduced that sea launches mainly aim at missions with the launch angle of 0 to 10 degrees, which significantly hampers carrying capacity if the missions are performed in the four major existing launch sites.

It is known that launch angle refers to the included angle between the launch direction of the satellite and the equator. The minimum orbital inclination that the satellite can achieve is the latitude of the local launch site. At present, among the four major existing launch sites, Wenchang Space Launch Site is with the lowest latitude of about 19 degrees north latitude.

"The lower the latitude of the launch site, the closer it is to the equator, and the less carrying capacity it will lose," Tang said, "that's why we are planning sea launch services to enable flexible location of launch and effectively lower the cost of launch."

Tang Yagang also introduced that to meet the needs of different domestic commercial space users, the 1st Institute initiated multiple solutions including "sharing ride" "tailored taxi service" and "regular bus". He said that commercial launches in the past were mainly to carry conducted in the form of "sharing ride", but the satellite aboard the mission is constrained by the primary satellite. To this end, the 1st Institute will use low-cost rockets as a "tailored taxi" to enable a dedicated launch plan which meet the need for track and launch verification. In addition, it plans "collective" launches for small and micro-satellite developed by universities as if they took a "regular bus" as long as the time and track for the rocket launch suit the satellites.