Wenchang emerging as nation's first commercial space launch hub

2023-11-28 Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Wenchang, a city in South China's Hainan province, is all set to ramp up its position as the hub of commercial spacecraft launches. The nation's first such site is currently in the critical development stage of forming its launch capability, and it aims to commence regular commercial operations by next year.

This announcement was made at the 2023 Wenchang International Aviation and Aerospace Forum, held in the city from Saturday to Monday.

Liu Chong, mayor of Wenchang and director of the Wenchang International Aerospace City Administration, said that major establishments, including the rocket assembly plant and the satellite assembly and testing plant, are expected to be completed or become operational by the end of this year.

The main structure of the satellite research and development center has been topped out, and the applications of the satellite remote sensing industry comprehensive information and service platform project will be utilized next July, Liu added.

The city also plans to accelerate the construction of its rocket industrial park and satellite and rocket super factory, promoting the integration and innovation of the industrial chain. The construction of a public platform for scientific and technological innovation will be expedited to provide strong support for normalized commercial launch missions next year, Liu said.

The developments have already begun to show economic benefits. From January to October, Wenchang witnessed substantial growth in income, tax revenue and fixed asset investment.

Moreover, a 10 billion yuan ($1.4 billion) industrial fund has been launched and a signing ceremony for major projects in the city was held on Sunday. The fund will be used for aerospace, new energy, digital economy and other industrial development projects.

The city has reached strategic cooperation agreements on 26 key industrial projects with aerospace institutions and enterprises, with a total investment of 4.6 billion yuan, covering core fields such as rocket, satellite and data chains, as well as science and innovation, capital and service chains.

"We have signed a contract with the commercial spacecraft launch site for special gas and supporting projects, mainly to provide special gas and fuel support services for launch missions," said Wu Zhiwei, deputy general manager of Jiangxi Jovo Group, a large-scale clean energy integrated service provider focusing on the gas industry in China.

Wu said that special gas and fuel include liquid oxygen, hydrogen and methane, and space kerosene, and the company can realize field production of liquid oxygen and hydrogen.

He said he believes that Wenchang is likely to become the best commercial space launch destination for enterprises thanks to the advantages of its location and Hainan Free Trade Port policies.

According to Liu, the mayor, the city seeks to attract high-end talent and promote the aerospace industry with the aid of supportive industrial policies. Wenchang has been introducing and adjusting relevant industrial support policies to encourage aerospace enterprises to gather in the city and seek high-end talent.

Kang Yonglai, founder of Tianbing Aerospace Technology Co, said that with the arrival of the large commercial spacecraft launch era, Wenchang's advantages as a low-latitude coastal launch site will be more obvious.

"The city can become a manufacturing and launch base for large carrier rockets. Spacecraft can be launched from both land and sea," he said.

Kang said his company will seize the opportunity to set up its space enterprise in Wenchang, and has signed a contract with the city to build its own rocket assembly and testing plant for normalized commercial launch operations.

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