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China launches rocket into space from mobile platform in Yellow Sea

This could carry any number of applications, including re-entry payloads with warheads.

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BEIJING -- China has successfully launched a rocket into space from the ocean's surface for the first time, the China National Space Administration announced Wednesday, in what is seen as a demonstration of its prowess in aerospace and maritime technology as its trade war with the U.S. spills into high-tech fields like 5G communication networks.

The Long March 11 rocket was fired at 12:06 p.m. local time from the Yellow Sea and placed seven satellites on their planned orbits, the CNSA said. The launch took place on a privately owned platform larger than a standard soccer field.

The rocket, which stands at 21 meters and has a diameter of 2 meters, had only been fired from the ground until this point. Wednesday's test was framed as a step toward advancing business opportunities in space, but many experts saw it as a warning against the U.S.

"It was technically a test, but it did actually put satellites in space," a source familiar with the matter said. The satellites launched included those for weather forecasting and ship-navigation systems.

A ship-based launch provides greater mobility, and does not require nearby residents to be evacuated for safety. It also gives China the possibility of firing rockets closer to the equator, where it costs less.

Wednesday's launch was conducted by the state-run company China Aerospace Science and Technology, which is also involved in the defense sector. China's neighbors have expressed concerns that the technology could be used for military purposes.