Fourth space launch center to be in use in 2 yrs

Updated: 2013-03-03 12:16


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BEIJING - China's fourth launch center, located in tropical island province of Hainan, will be ready for space launch in two years, said a member of China's top political advisory body.

The launch center, which has been under construction since 2009, will be able to launch space station capsules and cargo ships, Zhou Jianping,  designer-in-chief of China's manned space program, told Xinhua on Saturday.

The carrier rockets to be launched in the Hainan center include Long March-7 and Long March-5, said Zhou, a member of the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

Construction of the Hainan Space Launch Center, the lowest latitude one in China, started in September 2009 in Wenchang City, on the northeast coast of the tropical island province.

The center will be mainly used for launching synchronous satellites, heavy satellites, large space stations, and deep space probe satellites. It is designed to handle up to 10-12 rocket launches a year.

China currently has three space launch bases, namely, the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the desert of Northwest China's Gansu province, the nation's only manned spacecraft launch center; the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in North China's Shanxi province, capable of launching satellites into both medium and low orbits; and the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, mainly to launch powerful-thrust rockets and geostationary satellites in Southwest China's Sichuan province.

The three launch sites have carried out over 100 space launches, sending over 100 satellites into space.

However, the three launch centers are all landlocked in western or northern plateau and mountainous regions, lack commercial development and are inconvenient for transportation.

Long Lehao, a carrier rocket expert with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, previously said that rockets to be launched from Wenchang would consume less fuel to get into orbit, because of its better location.

"A satellite launched from Wenchang will be able to extend its service life by three years as a result of the fuel saved from the shorter manoeuvre from the transit orbit to the geosynchronous orbit," Long said.