China's commercial CERES-1 rocket succeeds in first sea launch
Wu Lei, Lu Lidan

China on Tuesday launched a CERES-1 Y1 carrier rocket from a mobile launch platform in the Yellow Sea off the coast of East China's Shandong Province, sending four satellites into preset orbit.

The commercial rocket blasted off at 5:34 p.m. (Beijing Time) from the launch platform, carrying the Tianqi constellation satellites 21 to 24 into an 800 km orbit, in a mission named "The Little Mermaid."

The launch was the 9th flight mission to use the CERES-1 rocket series.

This is the first time that the commercial space venture, Galactic Energy, conducted a sea launch, becoming the first private Chinese enterprise carrying out both land and sea-based launches.

The latest effort follows four successful land-based launches from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China earlier this year.

In comparison to land launches, sea launches offer the advantage of selecting launch and landing locations, thereby enhancing launch efficiency and safety, while also providing greater flexibility.

The Tianqi constellation consists of 38 satellites and several ground stations, which is expected to be full deployed by 2024. It will play a crucial role in various applications, including smart cities, smart oceans communication with fishing boats, emergency communications and ecological environment monitoring.

Tianqi satellites 21 to 24 possess the ability to provide continuous coverage of low- and middle-latitude regions for up to eight hours, with an average revisit time of less than 10 minutes.

With the launch of additional satellites in the coming months, the constellation aims to achieve uninterrupted 24-hour coverage by June 2024.

(CGTN's Liu Tianwen also contributed to the story)

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