Xichang Satellite Launch Center
The launch of Long March 3B Rocket, Xichang Satellite Launch Center, China.
Map
LocationXichang, Liangshan, Sichuan
Coordinates28°14′45.66″N 102°1′35.60″E / 28.2460167°N 102.0265556°E / 28.2460167; 102.0265556
Short nameXSLC
OperatorCASC
Total launches199[a]
Launch pad(s)Two
Launch Complex 2 launch history
StatusActive
Launches112
First launch15 July 1990
Long March 2E / Badr A & Aussat B-MFS
Last launch26 December 2023
Long March 3B/E / BeiDou-3 M25/M26
Associated
rockets
Long March 2E
Long March 3A
Long March 3B
Long March 3C
Launch Complex 3 launch history
StatusActive
Launches82
First launch29 January 1984
Long March 3 / DFH-2 01
Last launch9 January 2024
Long March 2C / Einstein Probe
Associated
rockets
Long March 3
Long March 2C
Long March 3A
Long March 3B
Long March 3C
Long March 4C
Long March 2D
Xichang Satellite Launch Center
Simplified Chinese西昌卫星发射中心
Traditional Chinese西昌衛星發射中心
Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap Download coordinates as: KML GPX (all coordinates) GPX (primary coordinates) GPX (secondary coordinates)

The Xichang Satellite Launch Center (XSLC), also known as the Xichang Space Center, is a spaceport in China. It is located in Zeyuan Town (泽远镇), approximately 64 kilometers (40 mi) northwest of Xichang, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan.

The facility became operational in 1984 and is used to launch numerous civil, scientific, and military payloads annually.[1][2] It is notable as the site of Sino-European space cooperation, with the launch of the first of two Double Star scientific satellites in December 2003. Chinese officials have indicated interest in conducting additional international satellite launches from XSLC.[3]

In 1996, a fatal accident occurred when the rocket carrying the Intelsat 708 satellite failed on launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center, killing at least 6 people in a nearby village. Uncontrolled debris from launches continues to fall in the vicinity, most recently in December 2023.[4]

A 2007 test of an anti-satellite missile was launched from the center.

History

China's first crewed space program

In order to support the Chinese Project 714 crewed space program in the 1960s, the construction of a new space center at Xichang in the Sichuan province was decided, located farther from the Soviet border, thus safer. This construction was part of the Third Front campaign to develop basic industry and national security industry in the rugged interior of China to prepare for potential United States or Soviet Union invasion.[5]

The Shuguang One spacecraft was expected to be launched from the launch pad number one. After the cancellation of the program, the launch pad was never completed. Today, a viewing platform for officials has been built at the site.[6]

First Long March-2E carrier rocket

China launched its first Long March-2E carrier rocket on 16 July 1990, sending into orbit Pakistan's first indigenously developed Badr-1 satellite and HS-601.

1996 Launch accident

Main article: Intelsat 708

On 15 February 1996, a fatal accident occurred when the first new Long March 3B heavy carrier rocket carrying Intelsat 708 veered off course 22 seconds after launch, crashing 1200 meters away from the launch pad in a nearby mountain village, destroying 80 homes. According to the official report, six people died and 56 were injured.[7] The number of civilian deaths has been disputed, with estimates of the number of casualties as around a few hundred.[8][9]

China's first successful ASAT test

Main article: 2007 Chinese anti-satellite missile test

On 11 January 2007, China conducted an anti-satellite missile test with an SC-19 ASAT weapon.

A Chinese weather satellite — the FY-1C polar orbit satellite of the Fengyun series, at an altitude of 865 kilometers (537 mi), with a mass of 750 kg — was destroyed by a kinetic kill vehicle.

The SC-19 has been described as being based on a modified DF-21 ballistic missile or its commercial derivative, the KT-2 with a Kinetic Kill Vehicle and is fully mobile.

Beginning of China's lunar exploration program

On October 24, 2007, Chang'e 1, an un-crewed Moon orbiter of the Chang'e program, was successfully launched from the facility, marking the beginning of China's lunar exploration program.[10]

First Long March-3C carrier rocket

China launched its first Long March-3C carrier rocket on April 25, 2008. This was the 105th mission of China's Long March series of rockets, and also the launch of the nation's first data relay satellite (数据中继卫星) Tianlian I (天链一号).[11]

A new launch pad for next-generation rockets (such as Long March 8) is currently under construction, as of December 2019.[12]

Facilities

Xichang Satellite Launch Center launch complexes
Xichang Satellite Launch Center diagram

Launch Complexes

Three launch complexes were planned, and two were built:

Launch Complex 1 (LC-1), not built, was intended as the Shuguang launch site, later used as a viewing area.[13]

Launch Complex 2 (LC-2 or LA-2), located at 28°14′44″N 102°01′36″E / 28.24550°N 102.02678°E / 28.24550; 102.02678 (Launch Complex 2 (LC-2 or LA-2)), and used for launching Long March 2E, Long March 3A, Long March 3B[14][15] and Long March 3C rockets.

Launch Complex 3 (LC-3 or LA-3), also known as LA-1, and located at 28°14′50″N 102°01′45″E / 28.2471400°N 102.0291100°E / 28.2471400; 102.0291100 (Launch Complex 3 (LC-3 or LA-3)). Used for launching Long March 2C, Long March 3, Long March 3A and Long March 3B rockets. Demolished and rebuilt between 2005 and 2006. Upgraded in order to support the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program.[16] Demolished and rebuilt again between 2013 and 2015.[failed verification]

Technical Center

Map of the Xichang Satellite Launch Center and its neighborhood

XSLC's Technical Center is equipped for testing and integration of the payload and launch vehicle. Its Mission Command and Control Center is located 7 kilometers (4.3 mi) southwest of the launch pads, and provides flight and safety control during overall system rehearsal and launch. It is serviced by a dedicated railway and highway directly from Xichang Qingshan Airport and Manshuiwan railway station, which is about 50 kilometers (31 mi) away from the launch site. Two launch complexes at the facility support flight operations.[17]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ In addition to the launches carried out from LA-2 and LA-3, 5 more launches of small-lift launch vehicles (Long March 11 and Kuaizhou 1A) have been performed in a undesignated area.

References

  1. ^ Weitering, Hanneke (March 24, 2020). "China's Long March 2C rocket launches military surveillance satellites into orbit". Space.com. Archived from the original on April 3, 2020. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  2. ^ Howell, Elizabeth (March 12, 2020). "China's new navigation system is nearly complete with penultimate Beidou satellite launch". Space.com. Archived from the original on April 13, 2020. Retrieved March 30, 2020.
  3. ^ "Dongfanghong IV ready for more int'l satellite orders". Xinhua News Agency. Archived from the original on October 2, 2008.
  4. ^ https://spacenews.com/china-launches-new-beidou-satellites-rocket-booster-lands-near-house/
  5. ^ Meyskens, Covell F. (2020). Mao's Third Front: The Militarization of Cold War China. Cambridge, United Kingdom: Cambridge University Press. pp. 4, 218. doi:10.1017/9781108784788. ISBN 978-1-108-78478-8. OCLC 1145096137. S2CID 218936313.
  6. ^ "百人大厅静得能听见掉下一根针" (in Chinese). Shanghai Morning Post. October 22, 2007. Archived from the original on August 9, 2011. Retrieved November 20, 2007.
  7. ^ "96年火箭发射失控爆炸全过程" (in Chinese). 大旗网. September 15, 2007. Archived from the original on July 15, 2012. Retrieved June 13, 2008.
  8. ^ Zak, Anatoly (February 2013). "Disaster at Xichang". Air & Space Magazine. Archived from the original on April 23, 2013. Retrieved April 21, 2013. (Article on the crash of a rocket carrying a commercial payload on February 15, 1996)
  9. ^ "The Space Review: Mist around the CZ-3B disaster (Part 1)". Archived from the original on December 1, 2017. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
  10. ^ "China's 1st moon orbiter enters Earth orbit". Xinhua News Agency. October 24, 2007. Archived from the original on October 25, 2007. Retrieved October 24, 2007.
  11. ^ "我国首颗中继卫星发射成功 将测控神七飞行" (in Chinese). 人民网. April 26, 2008. Archived from the original on June 10, 2016. Retrieved April 27, 2008.
  12. ^ Jones, Andrew (December 20, 2019). "China creates commercial space alliance, expands launch complex". SpaceNews. Retrieved December 20, 2019.
  13. ^ "Xichang Satellite Launch Centre". SinoDefence.com. Archived from the original on January 3, 2010. Retrieved March 7, 2010.
  14. ^ "China launches French-built satellite". Xinhua News Agency. June 9, 2008. Archived from the original on June 13, 2008.
  15. ^ "Long March 3B rocket launches Chinasat-9 satellite". Mister-Info.com. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011. Retrieved June 9, 2008.
  16. ^ "西昌卫星发射中心重建发射塔为登月作准备" (in Chinese). 人民网. September 19, 2006. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved June 11, 2008.
  17. ^ Profile of Xichang Satellite Launch Center Archived February 1, 2021, at the Wayback Machine, GlobalSecurity.org.

28°14′45.66″N 102°1′35.60″E / 28.2460167°N 102.0265556°E / 28.2460167; 102.0265556