(ORDO NEWS) — Rocket company Galactic Energy launched its second Ceres-1 rocket, becoming the first Chinese private company to reach orbit twice.
The Ceres-1 four-stage solid-propellant rocket was launched from the Jiuquan Cosmodrome in the Gobi Desert at 11:13 pm. On Monday, five satellites were successfully launched into a sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) with a length of about 500 kilometers.
The launch follows the company’s first launch in November 2020, making Galactic Energy the second Chinese private rocket company to reach orbit, following the success of iSpace in July 2019.
However, iSpace has failed in both of its next orbital launch attempts in 2021. Galactic is now planning five launches in 2022, the company said.
The Ceres-1 rocket has a diameter of 1.4 meters, a length of about 20 meters, a take-off weight of about 33 tons and has a liquid-fueled upper stage. It can put 300 kilograms of payload into a 500-kilometer orbit.
Galactic Energy says it has made a number of configuration improvements to the Ceres-1 rocket since its first launch, improving the second and third stage engines and adding carbon fiber composites, increasing the thrust-to-weight ratio, payload and overall performance of the launch vehicle.
The successful second launch gives Galactic Energy the opportunity to establish itself as a reliable provider of launch services in China’s emerging commercial space sector. Landspace, OneSpace and iSpace have all failed in their attempts to launch solid-propellant rockets.
“Galactic Energy is the first Chinese private company to enter a 500-kilometer sun-synchronous orbit, but it is not the issue of entering orbit or its altitude that is the key to realizing the real industrialization of commercial rockets. Instead, it can provide continuous and stable missile launches and large-scale missile production at low cost, ”Galactic Energy CEO Liu Baqi said in a post-launch statement.
The firm plans to make the first launch of Pallas-1, a reusable kerosene-liquid oxygen system in late 2022 and early 2023. Pallas-1 will be capable of launching 5 tons into low-earth orbit or 3 tons into a 700-kilometer SSO.
Galactic Energy recently assembled the first 50-ton Cangqiong kerolox engine in preparation for a full system test. Seven Cangqiong engines will power the Pallas-1 first stage, and one vacuum optimized engine will power the second stage.
Chinese private companies have not yet attempted an orbital launch of liquid-propellant rockets. Landspace CEO Zhang Changwu said on November 18 that Zhuque-2 methane-liquid oxygen could start in the first quarter of 2022.
The launch was the 48th in China and increased the country’s new national launch record for a calendar year. The vast majority of these were Long March missile launches carried out by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. (CASC), except for the Ceres-1 launch, three Kuaizhou-1A launches, and two iSpace launches.
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