China is likely to build its fourth satellite launch centre in the southern island province of Hainan. The provincial government is working to persuade the central government to approve the massive project, which is expected to be located in Wenchang, in the northeast of the island. The project is still in its preliminary stages. But the expert panel is actively pushing forward the proposed project, which could reduce the cost of launching satellites.
A member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering Zhang Yanzhong said that launching Earth-synchronous satellites from centres closer to the equator reduces costs compared with those launched from higher latitudes. China’s three existing launch sites are in the western and northern regions of Jiuquan, Xichang and Taiyuan, sitting between 28 and 41 degrees north latitude. Of the four sites, Hainan, located around 19 degrees, would be nearest to the equator. A launch centre in Hainan would be safer than other sites. As satellites launched from Hainan would follow a path over the South China Sea there would be less chance of debris falling on populated areas.