China planning its own commercial sea launch platform


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The new colonial movement: According to one Chinese official, China is developing its own ocean-going launch platform for placing commercial payloads into orbit.

Tang Yagang, vice head of the aerospace division of the No.1 institute of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC), said that the technology is not difficult and a sea launch platform can be built based on modifying 10,000-tonne freighters.

China will use solid carrier rockets which rely less on launch facilities and feature mature technology, Tang said, adding that key technology for the carrier rockets will be tested at sea this year and the service is expected to be available for international users in 2018.

This pronouncement suggests that the platform is already mostly built, and that the first test launches will occur this year.

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5 comments

  • Dick Eagleson

    China seems to be exhibiting a sort of grim determination to do, on its own, everything that both Russia and the U.S. have ever done in space.

    On the practical side, China has solid-propellant ICBM technology and that may well form the basis for the launch vehicle to be used. The Chinese solid ICBM’s are generally regarded as having less range and throw weight than their decades-old hypergolic model. Perhaps the reason for the floating launch platform is to enable launch exactly on the Equator so as to maximize payload capability for most orbits.

  • LocalFluff

    Dick,
    The impression of Westerners is that the Chinese are less creative. It’s still claimed about the Japanese too. They just do what obviously is the best thing to do and they do it very well. Chinese chess players are known for being great at opening theory, and they are indeed winning more in correlation with computers getting better at analyzing chess openings.

    If there really is a deficit in Chinese creativity, I bet that the Chinese government knows all about it because they would’ve investigated it very thoroughly. Sounds like the right thing to do. They just don’t know what to do about it. Waiting for some other country to come up with something so they can copy.

  • wodun

    China can innovate, they don’t just copy, but innovation takes place after learning about existing systems. They do have a highly regimented industrial society, so a project like this must be of use to the government somehow. To me, this means either military applications or expanding influence.

    Does the use of solid fuel rockets for commercial purposes help their military? Does a mobile launch platform help their military? Does this product help expand their influence in regions to boost trade and resource collection?

    They also seem to embrace geopolitical competition.

  • Dick Eagleson

    I don’t think Chinese people are less creative than Americans. Americans of Chinese descent have been, and continue to be, plenty creative. I think Chinese society is less creative exactly because it is so regimented. Societies with low or no tolerance for individual eccentricity don’t reward innovation. It’s a bit like that old saying about economic incentives – “If you want less of something, tax it more.” Innovation is subject to heavy social “taxation” in China.

  • ken anthony

    The Chinese (not just in China) are psychologically different beyond what can be explained by social structure. The social structure seems to follow the psych factors rather than creating them. This is just a personal observation over decades with little to back it up. However…

    Average intelligence is higher, but extremes of intelligence are rarer which seems to support this observation.

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