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China's sea-based rocketry expands with Smart Dragon 3's success
The Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center launches a Smart Dragon 3 carrier rocket from waters off the coast of Yangjiang, South China's Guangdong province, at 3:24 am (Beijing Time), Dec 6, 2023.
China's sea-based rocketry expands with Smart Dragon 3's success
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Dec 07, 2023

In a historic event that marked a significant milestone in space exploration, the South China Sea became the backdrop for its very first space launch mission. The early morning of Wednesday witnessed the awe-inspiring spectacle of a Smart Dragon 3 carrier rocket lifting off the coast of Yangjiang in Guangdong province.

The clock read 3:24 am as the rocket, a creation of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, embarked on its journey from a launch service ship. Its mission: to transport a space-based internet technology demonstration satellite into its preset orbit.

This satellite, known as CX-19, was conceived and constructed by the Innovation Academy for Microsatellites of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, located in Shanghai. The successful launch of CX-19 is a testament to China's growing prowess in space technology.

While this historic launch made headlines, it takes place against the backdrop of complex geopolitical issues in the South China Sea. The South China Sea is a region of significant strategic importance, with multiple countries, including China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Taiwan, having competing territorial claims over various islands and features.

China has asserted its territorial claims in the South China Sea through the controversial "Nine-Dash Line," which is not recognized under international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This has led to ongoing tensions and disputes in the region.

In addition to territorial disputes, China's extensive island-building activities and militarization of disputed features in the South China Sea have raised concerns among neighboring nations and the international community. These actions have the potential to alter the strategic balance in the region and have prompted freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) by the United States and other countries to challenge excessive maritime claims.

The South China Sea is not only a hotspot for geopolitical tensions but also a region rich in natural resources, including fish stocks and potential oil and gas reserves. Competition over these resources has intensified the disputes in the area.

Despite the diplomatic efforts, including negotiations and dialogues facilitated by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), progress in resolving the South China Sea disputes has been slow due to differing interests and positions among the parties involved.

While the launch of the Smart Dragon 3 represents a significant achievement in China's space exploration endeavors, it's important to acknowledge the broader context of regional and international concerns surrounding the South China Sea. The region has witnessed increased military posturing and the involvement of major powers like the United States, Japan, and Australia, all of whom have expressed interest in the stability and security of the South China Sea.

The successful launch of the Smart Dragon 3 in the South China Sea not only represents a significant step forward in China's space capabilities but also underscores the complex interplay of geopolitical and strategic interests in this crucial maritime region. It reaffirms China's commitment to pushing the boundaries of space technology and highlights the potential of sea-based rocketry as a vital component of future space endeavors.

Based on a Xinhua News Agency article

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