Long March-7A Y3 rocekt in Wenchang Space Launch Center Photo:Wenchang Space Launch Center
The Wenchang government of South China’s Hainan said they planned to begin construction of the first two locations for commercial space launch sites by the end of June as the province is accelerating efforts to build the Wenchang International Aerospace City, according to media reports.
The province aims to put infrastructure in place as soon as possible to allow regular commercial space launches by 2024, Long Weidong, a senior provincial official of Hainan, told a press conference on Thursday.
Wang Yanan, a senior expert on aerospace science and technology, told the Global Times on Friday that the two commercial launch locations would help promote the development of China’s commercial spaceflights as developers will be provided more platforms to test their products.
China’s commercial spaceflight industry is still at an early stage of development. But with more platforms and government support, they can have opportunities to test their technologies to accelerate the process of research and development, Wang said.
According to Long, the Wenchang International Aerospace City will include rocket and satellite assembly and testing plants as well as satellite data application centers.
It has attracted 23 space companies. Nineteen of China’s main space contractors, including China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation and the Chinese Academy of Sciences and other state-entities, have also signed contracts with the city, Long said.
In the long run, the city also eyes building areas for aerospace-themed tourism and research centers for aerospace universities, media reported.
The Wenchang International Aerospace City is a major project of Hainan Province to build the Hainan Free Trade Port. It is developed based on the Wenchang Space Launch Center, one of China’s most advanced spacecraft launch sites.
Space launches have also promoted tourism in Wenchang as many tourists make space launch watching an attraction that should not be missed on their island travel schedule, according to media reports.
Nearly all hotel rooms are reserved one month ahead of every launch and visitors – space launch amateurs, researchers, photographers and families – usually occupy 90 percent of hotel rooms five days ahead of each launch, local media said.
The relatively low threshold for building spacecraft launch sites is attracting several Chinese provinces. East China’s Zhejiang Province and Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province also had plans to build such a site.
Despite uncertainties, Chinese experts expect Chinese companies to have the ambition to grow world-leading launch sites like those built by SpaceX.
If some Chinese companies can reach a world-leading level in five to 10 years, more global spaceflight producers would come to cooperate with China due to the advantage of cost performance compared with American companies. The Chinese government could also cooperate with these domestic companies in aerospace projects, experts said.