China carries out first-ever seaborne hot rocket launch

On Friday, China successfully completed its carrier rocket's first-ever seaborne hot launch from the Yellow Sea.

The Space Dragon-3, also known as the Jielong-3, a commercial carrier rocket, was successfully launched with 14 satellites on board at 2:35 pm local time on Friday, the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation said.

China has previously completed cold launches, where a rocket is propelled with external gas. Contrarily this hot launch is a first for the country where a rocket actually used fuel on board a ship in the ocean. 

China’s crewed space program is officially three decades old this year, with the Mengtian launch being its 25th mission. But it truly got underway in 2003, when China became only the third country after the U.S. and Russia to put a human into space using its own resources.

The program is run by the ruling Communist Party’s military wing, the People’s Liberation Army, and has proceeded methodically and almost entirely without outside support. The U.S. excluded China from the International Space Station because of its program’s military ties.

Despite that, China is collaborating with the European Space Agency on experiments aboard Mengtian, and is cooperating with France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Pakistan and the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) on a range of projects from aerospace medicine to microgravity physics, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.