China to build first harbor for sea launch of space rockets
China plans to construct its first harbor for launching rockets from sea at a coastal city in East China’s Shandong Province this year, aiming to make maritime launches more frequent and systematic, the project developer said on Wednesday.
After launching a Long March-11 carrier rocket in the Yellow Sea off Shandong Province for the first time in June, a project for building a harbor especially for spacecraft sea launches was decided upon, according to a press release sent to the Global Times on Wednesday by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC).
The corporation signed a cooperation agreement with the government of the coastal city of Yantai in Shandong to carry out construction of the harbor.
The developer explained the location choice is based on the city’s outstanding port conditions which include factors like an already developed transportation network and wellequipped facilities.
CASC said that it is also planning to build supporting research centers for sea launch missions in Yantai, including a center to research and manufacture rockets, a research and development center for sea launch platforms and the development center for satellite data application.
The construction of the base will boost development of relevant industries such as new aerospace materials, energy equipment and tourism.
Pang Zhihao, an expert in space exploration technology in Beijing, told the Global Times Wednesday that compared with a land launch, launching a carrier rocket from the sea has many unique advantages.
Such a launch mode was “more flexible,” as mobile offshore launch platforms can meet customers’ different needs, Pang noted.
Pang continued to stress that launching a rocket from the sea, far from densely populated areas, can also lower the impact of such missions on people’s everyday life and property on the ground.
The seaborne launch technology meets the growing demand for low inclination satellites and helps China provide launch services for countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, the Xinhua News Agency reported in June when Long March-11 was launched.