China launches pair of navigation enhancement satellites from sea platform

China sent a pair of satellites for enhancing Beidou navigation signals into orbit on Friday (Oct. 7) with a rocket launch hosted by a mobile sea platform.

The Long March 11 solid rocket lifted off from a barge in the Yellow Sea at 9:10 a.m. EDT on Oct. 7 (1310 GMT, or 9:10 p.m. Beijing time), with launch success confirmed (opens in new tab)by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) just over 90 minutes later. 

The payloads for the mission were the CentiSpace-1 S5 and S6 satellites for enhancing the accuracy of signals from China’s Beidou navigation and positioning satellite system. The satellites will also conduct inter-satellite laser link experiments.

Related: The latest news about China’s space program

The launch took place on a converted barge stationed 1.86 miles (three kilometers) away from the coast, much closer than previously, helping to shorten mission preparation time.

The mission was China’s fourth sea launch, with the first taking place in June 2019. All four launches have used CASC’s Long March 11 launcher. 

In the future commercial solid rockets including the new commercial Smart Dragon 3 and Ceres 1 solid rockets are expected to launch from the sea.

China is developing a satellite and rocket ecosystem near Haiyang, on the coast of the eastern province of Shandong, to facilitate sea launches. The facilities will provide another route to orbit in addition to the country’s three inland launch centers and the new coastal Wenchang spaceport.

The launch was China’s 43rd orbital mission of 2022, with the country planning more than 50 before the end of the year. The country is also planning to launch a third Tiangong space station module in October.

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