China Aces Its 1st Rocket Launch at Sea, Puts 7 Satellites in Orbit

The Long March 11 rocket lifted off from a floating launch pad in the Yellow Sea just off the coast of Shandong at 12:06 a.m. EDT, or 12:06 p.m. local time (0406 GMT). It was the seventh launch of this type of Long March rocket, which first flew in 2015, and it was China's first attempt at an offshore launch into Earth orbit.

Related: China National Space Administration: Facts & Information

China's Long March 11 rocket lifts off from a mobile launch platform in the Yellow Sea on June 5. (Image credit: CCTV)

On board were two technology-experiment satellites and five smaller commercial satellites, according to the Chinese news site The two larger satellites, named Bufeng-1A and Bufeng-1B and built by the China Academy of Space Technology in Beijing, will monitor ocean winds to help improve weather forecasts.

Other payloads included an Earth-imaging cubesat, an experimental communications satellite called Tianqi-3, China's first two Ka-band communications satellites, and a new satellite for China's Jilin-1 remote-sensing satellite constellation, according to

Videos of the launch, provided by the Chinese news agency CCTV, show the 68-foot (21 meters) Long March 11 rocket hurtling into the sky from the unnamed ship, which measures about 360 by 260 feet (110 by 80 meters).

Launching rockets at sea can offer several advantages over land-based rocket launches. For example, the rocket can lift off closer to the equator, where Earth's spin naturally provides a speed boost and decreases the amount of fuel needed to reach orbit.

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Hanneke Weitering
Associate Editor,

Hanneke Weitering is an editor at Liv Science's sister site with 10 years of experience in science journalism. She has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy.