China plans to build a commercial spaceport to assist the country’s burgeoning space industry

China will develop a commercial spaceport in the following years to help the nation’s rapid expansion of private space operations.  The commercial space deployment center has been included in the newly announced 14th Five-Year Plan that covers the years 2021-2025. Following a major rise in launches by China’s conventional space sector and the private space industry’s growth in the modern years, the project has received approval.

China comprises four national launch sites, which primarily aid the Long March rocket launches by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC), the country’s primary space contractor. However, an increase in launch operation and the number of launch service suppliers could be hindered by a shortage in launch sites.

Dou Xiaoyu, a member of the China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) as well as vice-chairperson of China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), a large state-owned company, has called for the Chinese commercial spaceport venture to meet an anticipated increase in demand for the space launch services.

According to Dou, China’s domestic launch facility capability must be strengthened, and facilities must be constantly improved and optimized. She also stated that launch-related policies, as well as regulations, have yet to be finalized. CASIC launches Kuaizhou sequence solid rockets for commercial applications via its subsidiary Expace, on both open markets as well as for its own ventures, such as the Xingyun narrowband Internet of Things low Earth orbit constellation. CASIC also is working on engines that use a combination of methane and liquid oxygen as a propellant.

This isn’t a surprising step. In 2018, China National Space Administration announced that the prospect of building an open as well as shared commercial space launch facility was being investigated (Chinese). The move comes after a slew of policies aimed at easing and promoting China’s burgeoning commercial space market, which was opened to the private capital in late 2014.

Landspace, OneSpace, iSpace, and Galactic Energy are among the startups that have undertaken orbital launches, whereas Expace and China Rocket, which is a CASC spinoff, have also deployed rockets. Private companies Deep Blue Aerospace, Spacetrek, Linkspace, Space Transportation, as well as others are collaborating on launches with CAS Space, which is a Chinese Academy of Sciences spinoff.

The spaceport project was kept under wraps. The site of the new launch center, as well as the authority in charge of operations as well as other matters, are unknown. Commercial launch sites have been suggested near Jiuquan as well as Wenchang in the past (Chinese). As part of its plan for a larger aerospace center in Zhejiang province, Ningbo has suggested (Chinese) a launch facility.

Three inland launch facilities, Taiyuan in the north, Jiuquan in the northwest, and Xichang in the southwest, as well as the modern coastal Wenchang center on the southern island of Hainan, are currently operational. Recent efforts have been made to improve launch functionality. Xichang underwent upgrades last year with the aim of increasing annual launch capability from about 17 to approximately 30.

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