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China's first satellite launch center

By CCTV correspondent Tang Bo (CNTV)

15:40, June 10, 2013

China’s space ambitions date back to the 1960s. The country’s first satellite launch center in Jiuquan in China’s northwestern Gansu province has sent 29 satellites into space.

About 20 minutes' drive from Dongfeng Space City is China’s very first satellite launch center. It is called Base 2 where China started its space program in the 1960s. Once fully occupied with the country's top space scientists, it's now only guarded by six soldiers.

The former chief designer of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center Xu Kejun used to work there. And he tells me why people had to leave.

"After decades of running, launch facilities at Base 2 became less suitable for more launch missions. The old umbilical towers and relating facilities could not meet the needs of the new launch technologies for China’s manned space program. That is why we need to build a new launch center and abandon this old one," Xu said.

Although deprecated, Base 2 still inspired Xu on the design of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. "We adopted the designs of vertical testing and short-term vertical transportation that were used at the Base 2 to the design of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch center. The new launch techniques actually originate from the old site," he said.

In total, 29 satellites were launched from the old site, not mentioning missions for launch vehicle testing. And this is the launch pad from where China's very first satellite blasted off in 1970. It's no more operational, and serves as an educational base. And in more than 40 years since that launch, China's space program has made tremendous progress.

Today, China is one of the major players in the space arena. Chinese communication satellites and weather satellites provide China and other customers with their valuable services.

In 2003, China became the third country with a successful crewed space program by sending an astronaut into space aboard Shenzhou 5 spacecraft.

Five years later, Chinese astronauts on board the Shenzhou 7 spacecraft completed their first spacewalk.

In 2011, China launched the first module of their space station, the Tiangong 1, and successfully completed the docking with Shenzhou 9 spacecraft with China's first female astronaut on board.

China has also turned its focus to deep space exploration starting with the moon. It launched the country’s first lunar orbiter Chang’e 1 in late 2007, making China the fifth nation to orbit the moon.

Xu tells me that the old launch center carries the hard working spirit of Chinese space staff. And that will continue to inspire more people to contribute as China’s space program moves forward.

Email|Print|Comments(Editor:WangXin、Wang Jinxue)

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