Credit: Orienspace

From a ship in the Yellow Sea, a new Gravity-1 rocket from the Chinese space company Orienspace was launched for the first time on Thursday morning, Jan. 11, 2024 (Belgian time). The rocket successfully launched three Chinese Yunyao weather satellites into orbit that will become part of a new Chinese network of weather satellites. A striking feature of Orienspace's Gravity-1 rocket is that it uses only solid fuel.

Orienspace is a Chinese start-up and was founded in 2020. The company, based in Shandong province, is developing a series of rockets called "Gravity" and all together already raised $150 million in money from investors. The Gravity-1 rocket can carry up to 6.5 tons of cargo into low-Earth orbit and 4.2 tons of cargo into sun-synchronous orbit. This makes the Gravity-1 rocket the most powerful rocket developed to date by a Chinese private space company. All other existing Chinese rockets, some of which can launch much heavier payloads, are built and launched by Chinese state-owned companies. Because the Gravity-1 rocket uses only solid fuel, it is also the world's most powerful solid-fueled rocket. The Gravity-1 rocket was developed so that it can launch as many as 30 satellites simultaneously and prepare and execute a launch within a week. With this new rocket, then, Orienspace aims to put satellites primarily for large satellite constellations into space. In the future, the larger and heavier Gravity rockets should also carry satellites into higher orbits of the Earth or even on their way to the moon.

The reason why Orienspace launched its Gravity-1 rocket from on high is because it is less dependent on existing launch bases and there is very little chance of crashing debris into populated areas. With this first successful launch, Orienspace is now the fifth Chinese private space company to launch satellites into space under its own power. Several years ago, the space sector in China was also opened up to private companies after which a lot of start-ups were established such as Galactic Energy, LandSpace and i-Space. According to Orienspace, the company has already signed contracts to launch hundreds of satellites.


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Kris Christiaens

This article was published by FutureSpaceFlight founder and chief editor Kris Christiaens. Kris Christiaens has been passionate and fascinated by spaceflight and space exploration all his life and has written hundreds of articles on space projects, the commercial space industry and space missions over the past 20 years for magazines, books and websites. In late 2021, he founded the website FutureSpaceFlight with the goal of promoting new space companies and commercial space projects and compiling news of these start-ups and companies on one website.