China Great Wall Industry Corp, the country's largest space contractor on the international market, is considering using existing overseas launch facilities or building new ones in foreign territories to lift Chinese carrier rockets, executives said.
Yin Liming, the company's president, said on the sidelines of the fifth China Space Forum held by the company in Beijing on Tuesday that working with foreign nations to use or construct launchpads or launch centers will strengthen China's international space cooperation.
He said that this will allow China to use launch facilities that have geographic advantages such as those located near the equator.
"The closer a launch site is to the equator, the bigger carrying capacity a rocket (to be lifted from the site) will have and the less fuel it will consume," Yin said. "This will hugely boost our rockets' competitiveness in the international market."
Fu Zhiheng, vice-president of Great Wall, said several foreign nations have asked his company to help them build space launch sites, which corresponds with the company's own aspiration, but this matter involves a lot of policy and diplomatic issues and must be handled with deliberation and discretion.
He said Great Wall is also collaborating with Chinese space authorities to make plans for the construction of a new commercial launch site.
China has been providing launch services to international clients since 1990, when a United States-made communications satellite was sent into space on a Long March 3 rocket. All 45 commercial launches in China－those paid by clients other than the Chinese government or the military－were fulfilled by Great Wall using the Jiuquan, Taiyuan, Xichang and Wenchang domestic launch centers.
These centers are administered by the government and are primarily tasked with serving State programs such as lunar explorations and manned spaceflight.
According to Hu Shengyun, a senior rocket designer at China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, these government-run centers are too busy to handle the increasing commercial demands.
In another development, Fu said at Tuesday's forum that Great Wall has been working with the China Satellite Navigation Office to form a space-based augmentation system for China's Beidou positioning and navigation satellites. It will enhance the accuracy of Beidou's position and navigation services.