China launched the most powerful solid-fuel rocket from an offshore platform

The Chinese company OrienSpace has successfully launched Gravity-1. Today, it is the most powerful solid-fuel rocket in the world. 

Advantages and disadvantages of solid fuels

To create thrust, rockets burn fuel. It can be either liquid, representing a mixture of fuel and oxidizer, or solid. In the latter case, the oxidizer is already part of the fuel. 

Operation of the Space Shuttle solid-fuel boosters. Source: NASA

Solid-fuel rockets have both advantages and disadvantages compared to liquid-fueled vehicles. The main advantages are relative simplicity, the absence of the problem of possible leaks, a low fire hazard, and the possibility of long-term storage followed by a quick start. That is why such missiles are very popular with the military.

The main disadvantages of solid fuels are low specific impulse, as well as the inability to regulate thrust and restart the engine. After the combustion of solid fuel begins, this process can no longer be stopped. Therefore, in cosmonautics, it is usually used either in the side boosters or in small carriers based on ballistic missiles.

The most powerful solid-fuel rocket in the world

Despite everything, the private Chinese company OrienSpace decided to bet on solid fuels. It was founded in 2020 and, during its existence, could attract 150 million dollars of investments. This allowed its specialists to build a Gravity-1 solid-fuel rocket.

Launch of the Gravity-1 rocket. Source:

Gravity-1 has a length of 42 meters, a diameter of 3.35 meters, and a mass (including fuel) of 405 tons. It can put up to 6.5 tons of cargo into a low orbit and up to 4.2 tons of cargo into a sun-synchronous orbit with a high inclination. This makes Gravity-1 the most powerful of all existing solid-fuel carriers. The rocket is launched from an offshore barge.

The first launch of Gravity-1 took place on January 11 and ended with success. The carrier launched several weather satellites into a 500-kilometer orbit. Thus, OrienSpace became the fifth Chinese company to successfully launch its own orbital rocket.

According to

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