In yet another step towards strengthening the defense, China on Wednesday launched a rocket from sea to air for the first time. The Long March 11 rocket took off from a large semi-submersible canal boat in the Yellow Sea just after mid-day, state media said.
It carried seven satellites with it, including one that measures sea-surface winds to forecast typhoons. It is being called a small yet powerful rocket which can be deployed real quick and can even take flight from a remote launcher as a boat.
China has gone full gear on its space exploration and related projects in recent years with an ambition to catch up with the U.S. and become a major space power by the year 2030. Beijing plans to begin construction of its own manned space station next year.
The U.S. Defense Department, on the other hand has been keeping a close lookout on its competition country, and accused it of indulging in activities which are aimed at restricting other nations from using satellites and other emergency assets during a crisis.
History of Chinese Space Exploration
The space program of the People’s Republic of China is directed by the CNSA (China National Space Administration). Its technological roots can be traced back to the late 1950’s when China began a ballistic missile program in response to perceived American threats.
- The construction of China’s first missile test base, code-named Base 20, started in April 1958 and it entered service on October 20 of the same year.
- The first Chinese missile was built in October 1958 as a reverse-engineered copy of the Soviet R-2 short-range ballistic missile (SRBM), itself an upgraded version of a German V-2 rocket. Its range was 590 km, weighing 20.5 tons and propelled with liquid oxygen and alcohol.
- On October 27, 1966, a nuclear-tipped DF-2A missile was launched from Jiuquan and the 20 kilotons yield nuclear warhead exploded at the height of 569 meters over the target in Lop Nor or Base 21 situated 894 km away.
- On the 50th anniversary of the PRC’s founding, China launched the Shenzhou 1 spacecraft on November 20, 1999, and recovered it after a flight of 21 hours. The country became the third country with a successful crewed space program by sending an astronaut into space aboard Shenzhou 5 on October 15, 2003, for more than 21 hours.
China has since turned its focus to extra-terrestrial exploration starting with the Moon. The first Chinese Lunar Exploration Program un-crewed lunar orbiter Chang’e 1 was successfully launched on October 24, 2007, making China the fifth nation to successfully orbit the Moon.