China is to build a new satellite launch center, the country's fourth, in its southernmost island province of Hainan, said Luo Baoming, acting governor of Hainan on Tuesday.
Luo, who is attending this year's session of Hainan Provincial People's Congress, said the feasibility research for the center started in 2002 and the long-awaited plan would be available shortly.
China currently has three satellite launching centers located in Xichang in southwest Sichuan Province, Jiuquan in northwest Gansu Province and Taiyuan in Shanxi Province which is in the north of the country.
The site of the new launch center has been confirmed as Wenchang. This is 60 km from provincial capital Haikou.
With an area of 20 sq km, the Wenchang Satellite Launching Center will have a space theme scientific park, a rocket assembling plant, a rocket launching base, and the command center.
Hainan was selected because of its geographical advantages, said Long Lehaoan expert in carrier rocket and member of Chinese Academy of Engineering.
The lower the latitude of the launch location the greater the centrifugal force is and a launch becomes less expensive. "Hainan is China's closest site to the equator so much energy could be saved if a satellite base is built there," said Long.
Wenchang is located at 110 degrees east longitude and 19 degrees north latitude in northeastern Hainan. Due to the low latitude the load efficiency of the rocket will be high, according to the expert.
Long estimates the actual load efficiency will increase by 7.4 percent at the Wenchang base compared with the Xichang facility, which is located at 27 degree north latitude. The new establishment could add 300 kg more rocket load and save six million US dollars in load expenses. The cost of rocket load is about US$20,000 per kg in the world.
China's next-generation rocket is expected to be in service in 2010 and the Wenchang launch base is likely to be used for the new carrier rockets, Long said. The new base wouldn't cause pollution or harm the surrounding area due to use of environment-friendly technologies, he said.
(Xinhua News Agency February 7, 2007)