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China's satellite launch center open to tourists for free
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18:39, September 24, 2008

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· Shenzhou-7, China's 3rd Manned Space Mission
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China's Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, where the country's third manned spacecraft Shenzhou-7 is due to blast off, is open to all tourists from home and abroad free of charge, said an official with the center on Wednesday.

Any ordinary tourist can visit the center for free if an application is filed and approved and that room and board is self-covered, deputy director Yu Bencheng of the center told Xinhua.

The center is open to tourists all the year around except when important missions are carried out, while overseas visitors need the approval of government foreign affairs departments to enter the area, said Yu.

He dismissed the rumors on the Internet about the center charging tourists and journalists covering the Shenzhou-7 mission, saying the center had never made commercial use of its growing attraction to tourists.

Located in northwest China's Gansu Province, the launch base and its host city Jiuquan have become a popular destination among space fans since the country launched its first manned spaceship there in 2003.

Visits to the center were suspended from the middle of August and would resume after the launch of the Shenzhou-7, said Yu.

"The center now has no extra energy to accept tourists because of the intensity of the Shenzhou-7 space mission," he said. "Besides, it's necessary to strengthen controls as the rocket and the spacecraft have already entered the launch base."

Established in 1958 and 210 km away from the Jiuquan city's downtown, the launch center started to open to the public in 1986.

Source: Xinhua

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