China building fourth space launch center

March 6, 2013 at 7:46 PM   |   Comments

WENCHANG CITY, China, March 6 (UPI) -- China says a space launch center being built in the tropical island province of Hainan, the country's fourth such facility, will be ready in two years.

Under construction since 2009, when completed the Hainan center in China's southernmost province will be able to launch space station capsules and cargo ships, Zhou Jianping, designer-in-chief of China's manned space program, told China's state-run Xinhua News Agency.

The Hainan Space Launch Center, located near Wenchang City, will be mainly used for launching synchronous satellites, heavy satellites, large space stations and deep space probe satellites, officials said.

It will join three other Chinese space launch facilities: the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the desert of northwestern China's Gansu province, the nation's only manned spacecraft launch center; the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in northern China's Shanxi province; and the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwestern China's Sichuan province.

The three launch sites have carried out more than 100 space launches, Xinhua said.

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

Rockets launched from the Hainan center will consume less fuel to get into orbit because of its better location nearer the equator, an expert said.

"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 rocket expert with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said.

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