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China just launched a rocket with 5 satellites to orbit from a platform at sea

China launched five satellites into orbit on a rocket that lifted from a platform at sea on Saturday (April 30), setting a new distance record for the country's offshore launches.

A Long March 11 solid-fueled rocket successfully launched from ocean platform in the East China Sea to deliver its payloads into orbit. It was the second launch in as many days for the China National Space Administration, which launched two other satellites from a land-based spaceport on Friday. 

Saturday's sea launch marked the farthest offshore liftoff yet for China. It was the third sea launch for the country, which has launched Long March 11 boosters from its De Bo 3 platform since 2020.

"The launch site is the farthest from the port for us so far," Zhang Ming, deputy chief designer of Long March 11, told the state-run CCTV news channel, though he did not state how far the platform was offshore. "The mission will accumulate technologies and experience for our sea launch in the future."

Related: China's Long March rocket family: History and photos

The five satellites launched by the Long March 11 "will mainly provide commercial remote sensing services for industries such as land census, urban planning, and natural disaster monitoring," CCTV reported.

Saturday's mission was originally slated to launch Friday (April 29) but was delayed due to weather, according to SpaceNews (opens in new tab). It came on the heels of a Long March 2 C rocket launch from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on land to deliver two remote-sensing satellites into orbit.

On Friday, the Long March 2C rocket lifted off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center at 12:11 p.m. Beijing Time carrying the Siwei 01 and Siwei 02 remote sensing satellites.

"The two satellites will provide commercial remote sensing data services for domestic industries including natural resources, surveying and mapping, marine and environmental protection, as well as emerging markets such as urban security and digital rural development," China's state-run CCTV news channel reported. 

In addition to its traditional land-based launches like the one on Friday, China aims to launch up to three sea-based missions with the Long March 11 in 2022, officials with the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation said in a translated statement (opens in new tab)

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Tariq Malik
Editor-in-Chief

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter.