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Beijing: China’s fourth rocket launch center being built at the strategically located southern island province of Hainan, will be ready in two years, allowing the Communist giant to carry on its ambitious space programme more economically.

The Hainan Space Launch Center, the lowest latitude one in China, has been under construction since 2009, will be able to launch rockets that could carry capsules and cargo for the space station being built by China, designer-in-chief of China’s manned space programme, Zhou Jianping said.

Long Lehao, a carrier rocket expert with the Chinese Academy of Engineering, previously said that rockets to be launched from Wenchang would consume less fuel to get into orbit, because of its better location.

“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 manoeuvre from the transit orbit to the geosynchronous orbit," Long said.

The carrier rockets to be launched from the Hainan center include Long March-7 and Long March-5, he said.

Construction of the Hainan Space Launch Center started in September 2009 in Wenchang City, on the northeast coast of the tropical island. The center will mainly be used for launching synchronous satellites, heavy satellites, large space stations, and deep space probe satellites. It is designed to handle up to 10-12 rocket launches a year.

China currently has three space launch bases, namely, the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in the desert of northwest China’s Gansu Province, the nation’s only manned spacecraft launch center and the one most heavily used; the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center in north China’s Shanxi Province, capable of launching satellites into both medium and low orbits; and the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, mainly to launch powerful-thrust rockets and geostationary satellites in southwest China’s Sichuan Province.

The three launch sites have carried out over 100 space launches, sending over 100 satellites into space. However, the three launch centers, located in western and northern plateau, are all landlocked and in mountainous regions, are inconvenient for transportation and is lagging behind in commercial development. PTI

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