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China’s Long March-11 launches two satellites via offshore pad


China successfully launched two test satellites by the Long March-11 carrier rocket from a launch platform in the Yellow Sea on Friday.

They lifted off at 9:10 p.m. Beijing Time. It was the first time Long March-11 was adopted for a nearshore platform, three kilometers from shore, to launch satellites.

Nearshore launch is safer, as ocean conditions would be better and jettisoning of empty propellant tanks out to sea is safer. It also saves time on rocket transportation, enhancing efficiency on launch missions.

Known for multiple satellites launches within a single ride, the four-stage solid-propellant Long March-11 rocket is responsive, reliable, and adaptable for both on-land and offshore take-offs based on the orbit requirements. 

It is capable of carrying 500 kilograms of payload to both the sun-synchronous orbit (SSO) and the low-earth orbit (LEO).

The rocket can be assembled for two fairing sizes, one at 1.6 meters and the other at 2 meters. It is now in the stage of mass and rolling production, according to Zhang Ming, the deputy designer of the rocket. 

Since its maiden flight in September 2015, this rocket type has conducted four sea launches and 10 land launches, achieving its 14th consecutive successful launch. 

The satellites, CentiSpace-S5 and S6 test satellites with LEO satellite navigation enhancement system, have entered the planned orbit successfully.

They will be used for real-time monitoring of the global navigation satellite system performance, and will carry out navigation augmentation and inter-satellite laser communication tests.

The Long March-11 will be launched from offshore platforms more often.

It was the the 441st mission of the Long March series rockets.
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