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Backgrounder: China's three major space launch bases
www.chinaview.cn 2003-10-15 10:07:52

  BEIJING, Oct. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- There are three major space launch bases in China, namely, the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center and the Xichang Satellite Launch Center.

  In line with the common international practice, all the three launch centers are located in scarcely-populated areas where the terrain is even and the field of vision is broad. Factoring in arealso state security, transport conditions and the influence of theaxial rotation of the Earth.

  Founded in 1958 in Gansu province, Northwest China, the JiuquanSatellite Launch Center is China's earliest space launch base, where most of the country's space launches and tests have been conducted. At a mean elevation of 1,000 meters, the Jiuquan launchcenter is mainly used to send experimental and applications satellites that are on the lower and medium orbits with large orbital inclination angles. Meanwhile, it is also capable of testing medium- and long-range missiles.

  Over the past four decades and more, the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center has made nine successful history-making launches, including the testing of China's first short-range missile, the launch of China's first man-made satellite, the testing of a long-range launch vehicle to the Pacific Ocean, as well as a 1981 launch that sent three satellites into the orbit atop a single rocket.

  The Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center, situated in Kelan County of north China's Shanxi province, was founded in March 1966 and put into normal operation in 1968. At the end of that year, the center successfully conducted the full-distance testing of the first-generation medium-range rocket.

  Hemmed in by mountains in all directions, the Taiyuan launch center stands at an elevation of 1,500 meters. With dry weather conditions in the locality, the center is believed to be the idealist site for launching solar-synchronous satellites. In 1988 and 1990, the center successfully blasted meteorological satellites made by China alone into space with the Long March CZ-4rockets.

  Located in the Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture of southwest China's Sichuan Province, the Xichang Satellite Launch Center is designed mainly to launch powerful-thrust rockets and geostationary satellites. At an average elevation of 1,500 meters,the center is known for its agreeable weather and picturesque scenes. The sights of the taking off of rockets often seen in Chinese television programs were shot there.

  The Xichang center has two launch pads: one for the launch of geostationary communications satellites and meteorological satellites by Long March CZ-3 rockets and the other for the lift-off of Long March CZ-2 strap-on launch vehicle and the Long March CZ-3 series rockets. On July 16, 1990, China's first Long March CZ-2 strap-on launch vehicle successfully blasted off from Xichang and sent a Pakistani scientific experimental satellite and a Chinese satellite into their orbits. Enditem

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