China Goes All-in on Sea Launch

Already operating four spaceports (three of which drop stages over land), China will construct a new port to facilitate launches from an off-shore submersible platform, China Daily reports.

The State-owned space conglomerate China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp is working with the eastern coastal province of Shandong to start construction of a port for sea-based space launches before the end of this year.

The Beijing-based space giant said on Tuesday that during a recent visit by Ling Wen, deputy governor of Shandong, to the company’s headquarters, a strategic cooperation framework agreement was signed by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, city government of Yantai, and Shenzhen-headquartered China International Marine Containers Group to jointly build an eastern coastal space port in Haiyang, a city administered by Yantai.

The project will make use of Yantai’s unique location, existing harbors and local space research and marine engineering facilities. Upon completion, the port will consist of support facilities for sea-based space missions and four research and production centers for carrier rockets, satellite equipment, sea-launch platforms as well as satellite data and applications.

China launched a Long March 11 from a submersible platform in June.