A port city in Eastern China has reportedly unveiled plans to establish the 5th rocket launch site in the country, with an aim to ramp up space infrastructure due to the exponential rise in commercial missions.
On 1st April, an engineering company located in Zhejiang, an eastern province of China, won a tender to develop a rocket launch pad in the Ningbo city, including a section of the command center as well as an assembly & testing facility, according to authentic sources. As a part of the government’s infrastructure plans for 2021 to 2025, the city will invest $3 billion (20 billion yuan) in the launch center in the county of Xiangshan, also known as Elephant Hill. This new launch center will be capable of launching 100 missions per year.
Sources familiar with the matter have reportedly stated that Xiangshan is located at a favorable latitude for launching rockets, like Cape Canaveral in Florida. The country is planning to launch massive constellations of the commercial satellites into orbit over the next 5-10 years to offer services such as high-speed internet for aircraft and tracking coal shipments.
In order to meet the mounting demand for satellite missions, China is targeting to build large rockets that have the capacity to carry more satellites and develop more launch sites. Presently, the region has 4 launch sites, 3 inland and 1 on the southern coast of the Hainan island.
For the record, the country had launched 39 missions in 2020 and is anticipated to witness more than 40 launches in 2021. As per reliable sources, it is likely to launch above 1,000 low-Earth orbit satellites over the coming years. Its largest rocket, Long March-5, can reportedly transport 60 satellites at one time. The comparatively low threshold for developing the launch sites is expected to lure other provinces in the region to plan such projects, sources added.