China launches space rocket from the sea for the first time

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 A Long March 11 carrier rocket takes off from a mobile launch platform in the Yellow Sea.

China successfully launched a rocket from a ship at sea for the first time on Wednesday (local time), state media reported, the latest step forward in its ambitious space program.

Key points:

  • The rocket blasted off from a platform on a large semi-submersible barge in the Yellow Sea
  • The rocket carried seven satellites, including one that measures sea-surface winds to forecast typhoons
  • China is stepping up its space program and hopes to become a major space power by 2030

The Long March 11 rocket blasted off from a platform on a large semi-submersible barge in the Yellow Sea, between China and South Korea, state media said.

The small rocket, designed to be deployed quickly and from mobile launch sites such as a ship, carried seven satellites, including one that measures sea-surface winds to forecast typhoons.

The rocket also carried two communications satellites belonging to China 125, a Beijing-based technology company that plans to launch hundreds of satellites to provide global data networking services.

A grainy photo showing a rocket being launched into space from a sea platform

China has made its space program a top priority in recent years as it races to catch up with the United States and become a major space power by 2030. 

Beijing plans to begin construction of its own manned space station next year.

However, while China has insisted its ambitions are purely peaceful, the US Defence Department has accused it of pursuing activities aimed at preventing other nations from using space-based assets during a crisis.

The first rocket to be launched from a sea platform was in 1999.

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