In the near future, launch facilities located at sea are expected to be a lot more common. SpaceX announced that it is hoping to create offshore facilities in the near future for the sake of launching the Starship away from populated areas. And China, the latest member of the superpowers-in-space club, is currently building the “Eastern Aerospace Port” off the coast of Haiyang city in the eastern province of Shandong.
This mobile launch facility is being developed by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the country’s largest aerospace and defense contractor. Once fully operational, it will be used to launch light vehicles, as well as for building and maintaining rockets, satellites, and related space applications. As China’s fifth launch facility, it will give the country’s space program a new degree of flexibility.
The addition of a sea platform will also help mitigate the risk to populated areas. At present, all of China’s other launch facilities are located inland at Jiuquan (northwest China), Taiyuan (north), Xichang (southwest), and the coastal site at Wenchang (south) on the island of Hainan. Launches from these locations often result in spent stages falling back to Earth, which requires extensive safety and cleanup operations.