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China’s Long March 11 rocket today launched five Earth observation satellites.
The rocket appears designed to compete with some of the smallsat rockets being developed by private companies in the U.S. and elsewhere.
The Long March-11 (Chang Zheng-11) is a small solid-fueled quick-reaction launch vehicle developed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT) with the goal to provide an easy to operate quick-reaction launch vehicle, that can remain in storage for long period and to provide a reliable launch on short notice.
LM-11 is a four stage solid-fueled launch vehicle equipped with a reaction control system on the fourth stage. The vehicle has a length of 20.8 meters, 2.0 meters in diameter and a liftoff mass of 58,000 kg. At launch it develops 120.000 kg/f, launching a 350 kg cargo into a 700 km SSO. The CZ-11 can use two types of fairing with 1.6 meters or 2.0 meters.
LM-11’s first launch took place on September 25, 2015, when successfully orbited the Pujiang-1 and the three Tianwang small sats from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center.
Update: I had initially left off Russia’s Rokot launch of a new European Earth observation satellite late yesterday. The standings below have therefore been updated.
The leaders in the 2018 launch standings:
Europe, India, and Japan are all tied at 3. The U.S. and China are now tied at 12 in the national standings.