China launched a rocket from a pad at sea for the first time today (June 5), making it the third nation to successfully demonstrate the ability to launch satellites into orbit from a floating platform (following the U.S. and Russia).
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.
On board were two technology-experiment satellites and five smaller commercial satellites, according to the Chinese news site XinhuaNet.com. 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.