China has launched a carrier rocket from a sea-based platform situated in the Yellow Sea, which is expected to reduce safety challenges and the cost of space missions.

The CZ-11 Solid-fuel Space Launch Vehicle (CZ-11 WEY) was launched from a civilian cargo ship to send seven commercial satellites.

All seven satellites were placed into their designated circular orbits of 600km. According to the China National Space Administration (CNSA), it includes Bufeng probes that can identify and monitor typhoons and other weather events on the ocean surface.

The CZ-11 space launch vehicle is nearly 21m-long and weighs 58t. It is the only type of solid-fuel launch vehicle in its launch vehicle family.

The carrier rocket is capable of delivering payloads weighing up to 500kg into the Sun-synchronous orbit. It has so far completed seven missions, including launches on the land and sea.

Sea launches are considered to be more flexible compared to conventional land launches of satellites. They offer optional launch points enabling safe, economical and efficient launch mode.

Furthermore, it enables to address the demand to launch the satellites at an inclination between 0° and 19°, a requirement that Chinese land launch sites are unable to provide.

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South China Morning Post quoted CNSA as saying in a statement: “Launching a rocket from the sea has the advantages of high flexibility, good adaptability for specific tasks, and excellent launch economy.”

Such sea launch platforms were first developed in collaboration between the US, Russia, Norway and Ukraine in the late 1990s. However, the collaboration was suspended in 2014 due to political disputes between Russia and Ukraine, the publication added.