China-Based Oriental Space Launches Its First Medium-Lift Rocket

Gravity-1 launch vehicle

“The trend in Chinese commercial launch companies since 2020 has been to shift towards larger rockets. Orienspace is looking to develop and launch Gravity-2 and Gravity-3 soon. Both rockets having a low earth orbit payload greater than Gravity-1.”

China is making strides in its commercial launch technologies. According to the excerpted article from the Chinese news outlet People’s Daily Online, on 11 January 2024, a Chinese commercial launch vehicle designer called Orienpace[i] successfully launched its first Gravity-1 medium-lift rocket carrying 3 Yunyao-1 (18-20) global weather data satellites into low orbit. The Gravity-1 rocket, (known as “引力-1号,” “Yinli-1,” or simply “YL-1”) has been in development since 2021 and is the launch vehicle for the Yunyao-1 satellites. Several facets of the Gravity-1 make it an important development for China. First, it can support a very large payload of approximately 20-30 low-orbit satellites, which is larger than China’s previous largest rockets’ payloads, the CAS Space’s Kinetica-1 and China Rocket’s Jielong-3. Gravity-1 can provide a payload of 6.5 tons to low orbit, whereas Kinetica-1 can provide a payload of 2 tons and Jielong-3 can provide a payload of 1.5 tons to low orbit. Second, Oriental Space can launch Gravity-1 within 5 hours of manufacturing, giving Oriental Space the capability to address emergency launch requests. Third, Gravity-1 is the lowest price in the current Chinese launch market.[ii] The capabilities of Gravity-1 could provide China with the ability to launch multiple low-earth orbiting satellites at a faster and more cost-effective rate than their competitors enhancing China’s communication, military reconnaissance, and technology testing.


“全球运力最大固体运载火箭引力一号首飞成功 (The world’s largest solid launch vehicle Gravity-1 successfully made its maiden flight),” People’s Daily Online (Chinese government news outlet), 12 January 2024.

“At 13:30 on January 11, my country’s Taiyun Satellite Launch Center used the Gravity-1 Yaoyi commercial launch vehicle in the sea near Haiyang, Shandong, to successfully launch 18-20 Yunyao-1 satellites into the predetermined orbit…Gravity-1 is capable of carrying more than twice that of the previous largest Chinese solid rockets, CAS Space’s Kinetica-1 and China Rocket’s Jielong-3.”


[i] See Orienspace’s official website (东方空间).

[ii] This is according to Oriental Space’s website and a recent article featured in the American news outlet SpaceNews. See: Andrew Jones, “Orienspace breaks Chinese commercial launch records with Gravity-1 solid rocket,” SpaceNews. 11 January 2024.

Image Information:

Image: Gravity-1 launch vehicle
Attribution: CC BY-SA 4.0