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Hainan launch centre

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.

Local media reported that an expert panel has approved a preliminary feasibility report by the provincial government.
But economic planning officials said the report was just the start of the complicated application process.

"There is still a long way to go before the central government finalizes the proposal," said a provincial commission for development and reform official who identified himself by only his surname, Deng.

He said the project is still "a long-term blueprint," and there is a complicated process before the central government agrees to the project.
The province has not yet offered the report to the National Development and Reform Commission, he said. The national commission must also endorse the plan before the State Council takes its decision.
"The project is still in its preliminary stages," the official said.
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.

"Hainan is an ideal location," Zhang said.

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.
"This factor is an advantage contributing to efficient and low-cost launches," Zhang said.

Zhang also said 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


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