Wen­chang launch cen­ter con­struc­tion to be com­pleted by June

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By WANG QIAN and HUANG YIM­ING

China’s new satel­lite launch cen­ter is set to count­down for its first launch in late 2014 or early 2015, with con­struc­tion com­pleted be­fore June, a se­nior of­fi­cial said.

Once op­er­a­tional, the Wen­chang Satel­lite Launch Cen­ter in Hainan prov­ince, the fourth in China, will launch new­gen­er­a­tion car­rier rock­ets and space sta­tion mod­ules.

“Con­struc­tion work will be fin­ished be­fore June and launch re­hearsals will be car­ried out later this year,” Pei Cheng­min, Party chief of Wen­chang, told China Daily dur­ing a ses­sion of the provin­cial people’s congress on Sun­day.

Pei es­ti­mated about 2 bil­lion yuan ($329 mil­lion) would be in­vested in the in­fra­struc­ture.

A re­port re­leased by the Hainan De­vel­op­ment and Re­form Com­mis­sion last year said 2.5 bil­lion yuan will be used for the cen­ter’s con­struc­tion.

Cov­er­ing about 20 square kilo­me­ters, the cen­ter in­cludes a rocket as­sem­bly plant, a com­mand cen­ter and fa­cil­i­ties such as a space re­search cen­ter, as well as a theme park.

Sun Baowei, di­rec­tor of the Xichang Satel­lite Launch Cen­ter in Sichuan prov­ince, told China Daily in an ear­lier in­ter­view that at about 19 de­grees north of the equa­tor, the lo­ca­tion of the new launch cen­ter in Hainan is suit­able for launch­ing geosyn­chronous and heavy satel­lites, large space sta­tion com­po­nents and lu­nar and in­ter­plan­e­tary mis­sions.

Geosyn­chronous satel­lites are those that have an or­bital pe­riod that mir­rors the Earth’s ro­ta­tion.

“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 ma­neu­ver from the tran­sit or­bit to the geosyn­chronous or­bit,” Long Le­hao, a car­rier rocket ex­pert with the Chi­nese Academy of En­gi­neer­ing, told Xin­hua News Agency.

As the new launch cen­ter faces the sea to its south and east, large rock­ets can be eas­ily shipped to the cen­ter and launch de­bris will plunge into the wa­ter, Long added.

Sun said the cen­ter’s lo­ca­tion makes it ideal for China’s next-gen­er­a­tion launch ve­hi­cles — the Long March 5 and Long March 7.

The Long March 5 rocket will be mainly used for China’s manned space sta­tion com­po­nents and has the ca­pac­ity to carry a 20-met­ric-ton pay­load to near-Earth or­bit, ac­cord­ing to the China Aero­space Sci­ence and Tech­nol­ogy Corp. It will also be used in the coun­try’s moon ex­plo­ration pro­gram.

Liang Xiao­hong, deputy di­rec­tor of the China Academy of Launch Ve­hi­cle Tech­nol­ogy, told Bei­jing Morn­ing Post that the Long March 5 car­rier rocket is ex­pected to blast off from the new cen­ter.

The most widely used satel­lite launch cen­ter is in Ji­uquan, Gansu prov­ince. The other two cen­ters are in Taiyuan, Shanxi prov­ince, and Xichang, Sichuan prov­ince.

The three cen­ters are all lo­cated in re­mote re­gions, far from pop­u­la­tion cen­ters, but the Wen­chang Satel­lite Launch Cen­ter will be close to res­i­den­tial ar­eas, which lo­cal au­thor­i­ties ex­pect will play an im­por­tant role in boost­ing the lo­cal econ­omy.

Pei said the cen­ter will also boost tourism in Wen­chang, es­pe­cially with the theme park. He es­ti­mated that in the month of the first launch mis­sion, the cen­ter could at­tract 300,000 tourists to the city.

The theme park will of­fer vis­i­tors a tour of the launch pads as well as other at­trac­tions, such as a moon-themed train ride and “cos­mos” roller coaster. The park’s in­ter­plan­e­tary sec­tion will be di­vided into four themed ar­eas — Earth, Moon, Sun and Mars.

In or­der to ac­com­mo­date surg­ing tourist num­bers, 28 ho­tels in Wen­chang are un­der con­struc­tion with three fives­tar ho­tels set to open within the year. Con­tact the writ­ers at wangqian@chi­nadaily.com.cn and huangy­im­ing@chi­nadaily. com.cn

Pei Cheng­min, Party chief of Wen­chang

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