China plans to expand the Wenchang spaceport

China plans to expand the Wenchang spaceport. This will allow it to increase the annual number of orbital launches and provide the necessary support for future lunar missions.

China’s Newest Spaceport

Wenchang is located on Hainan Island. This is the most modern spaceport in China — its construction was completed in 2014, it received its first launch in 2016. In addition, it is the southernmost spaceport of the Celestial Empire (it is located at 19° N.), and the only one of its space centers located on the seashore.

Wenchang spaceport. Source: Xinhua

These are important advantages. Proximity to the equator allows the rockets to develop a high speed, which, in turn, increases the payload put into orbit. And the presence of the ocean makes it possible to solve the problem of safe disposal of spent side boosters and first stages. In addition, unlike intercontinental spaceports, the dimensions of rockets launched from the territory of Wenchang are not tied to the capabilities of the railway network. Ships are used to deliver them to the island, which allows the use of larger diameter carriers.

Expansion of the Wenchang Spaceport

Currently, Wenchang accepts from 6 to 8 launches per year. But this will change in the near future. According to Zhong Wen’an (he holds the position of chief engineer of the Xichang Space Center and oversees the construction of Wenchang), in a few years the spaceport will provide 20-30 launches per year. 

Construction of a new launchpad at the Wenchang spaceport. Source: @SegerYu
Construction of a new launchpad at the Wenchang spaceport. Source: @SegerYu

Aerial photographs and satellite images show traces of active construction work being carried out at the spaceport. After their completion, Wenchang will be able to support the launches of a number of new carriers. We are talking about a rocket that will be used to launch a new manned spacecraft into orbit, as well as a superheavy rocket Long March 9, which will be used to build an International scientific station at the south pole of the Moon. The spaceport will also acquire additional launch pads designed for commercial companies.

According to

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