China completes construction of advanced space launch facility
Updated: 2014-09-11 07:09
By Zhao Lei(China Daily USA)
China has finished building of its fourth and most advanced space launch center, a senior space official said.
Yang Liwei, deputy director of the China Manned Space Agency, said in Beijing on Wednesday that infrastructure construction on the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in the southern island province of Hainan has been completed and that the station will soon become operational.
"The center is basically ready for spacecraft launches," he said.
Yang also said the nation's space program is progressing in the development of the Tiangong-2 space lab, the Tianzhou cargo spacecraft, the Shenzhou-11 manned spacecraft and the Long March 2F-Y11 rocket as astronauts and ground facilities begin preparing for new missions.
After Tiangong-2 is launched around 2016, Shenzhou-11 and Tianzhou will be sent into space to dock with it, he said.
China has three operational space launch centers in Sichuan and Shanxi provinces and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
According to earlier reports, more than 6,000 people would be relocated to make way for the Wenchang center. The construction of the center was approved by the State Council and the Central Military Commission in 2007, and work began in 2009.
The biggest advantage of the Wenchang center is its low latitude - 19 degrees north of the equator - which will enable rockets to save a lot of fuel compared with launches from other centers in China, experts said.
A satellite launched from Wenchang is expected to have a longer service life as a result of the fuel saved by the shorter trip from transit orbit to geosynchronous orbit.
The favorable location also allows a substantial increase in payload on the rockets to allow them to carry heavier spacecraft.
Liu Jianzhong, deputy designer of the Long March-5 rocket system, China's most powerful rocket that is under development, said the new center would be suitable for the launch of the Long March-5 because the large rocket can be transported to the center by sea. Other launch centers in China are in inland regions and have to transport their rockets by rail.
"Launching from the Wenchang facility also means rocket wreckage will fall into the sea rather than onto inhabited areas," he said.
(China Daily USA 09/11/2014 page5)