China’s fourth space center, Wenchang, will be put into service between 2014 and 2015, not in 2013 as it was previously announced, the CCTV channel reported on Tuesday.
Located in a forest of coconut palms on the northeast coast of the Hainan tropical island, Wenchang will be the country’s first low-latitude space center. Its latitude of only 19 degrees north of the equator will contribute to lower fuel consumption and maximum payload.
“The construction of the fourth space center, Wenchang, is ongoing. China’s first low-latitude space center will be commissioned in 2014-2015,” CCTV quoted a local government official as saying.
The life span of a satellite launched from Wenchang will be up to three years longer as more fuel will be saved during a shorter maneuver from the transit orbit to the geosynchronous orbit.
The maximum payload of Chinese rockets will be increased by more than 300 kg, up 7.4% as compared to the other three centers.
The center is likely to be the launch base for China’s new-generation Long March 5 large-thrust carrier rocket, which is currently being developed and is expected to be put into service in 2014.
China has recently unveiled comprehensive space exploration plans, including plans to build its own orbital space station and laboratory before 2020. The ultimate goal of the Chinese project is to put a man on the Moon by 2020 and build a space base on the Earth’s natural satellite by 2050.
So far the most heavily used space facility in China is the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center (JSLC) on the border with the Gansu Province and the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The remaining two centers are Taiyuan in northern Shanxi Province and Xichang in southwest China’s Sichuan province.