China’s Hainan launching site is approaching operational status. Early work on China’s newest spaceport is shown here in full swing with rocket assembly towers in view. Credit: China Space Website

China’s Hainan launching site is approaching operational status. Early work on China’s newest spaceport is shown here in full swing with rocket assembly towers in view.
Credit: China Space Website

China’s new launch complex is the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in Hainan province.

Construction of that facility began in 2009 and is now completed. It will soon become operational, China’s People’s Daily reported last week.

The center is designed to handle next-generation rockets, the lofting of large space station modules – as well as deep space missions.

Coastal launch base

The new launch facility is situated on the northeast coast of Hainan Island, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) from Haikou, the provincial capital. The center is the country’s first coastal satellite launch base – no danger of discarded booster parts sailing into residential areas.

Wenchang adds to a trio of other Chinese launch sites: the heavily used Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the Gobi Desert, Taiyuan in the Shanxi province, and in Xichang, Sichuan province.

Space city with trams!

Wenchang is built to loft the Long March 5 rocket, China’s most powerful booster, which is now under development.

According to Qi Faren, former chief designer of the Shenzhou spaceships, the Long March 5 will be launched from the new center next year.

Hainan is site of China’s newest launch center, complete with trams to visit the complex. Credit: TravelChinaGuide.com

Hainan is site of China’s newest launch center, complete with trams to visit the complex.
Credit: TravelChinaGuide.com

The launch site will be used primarily for dispatching heavy geostationary telecommunications satellites.

As China’s fourth “space city,” Wenchang also includes a space theme park where visitors will be given tram tours of the launch pads.

By the way, the third annual Hainan Wanning Riyue Bay International Surfing Festival will take place on Hainan from November 23-28.

Surf and space are up!

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