Chinese officials have announced the completion of the nation’s fourth launch center, one that has a distinct advantage over the other three: rockets stages will fall over the ocean rather than on land.
Located in the southern island province of Hainan, the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center has the advantage of being at a latitude of 19 degrees north of the equator, which is lower than China’s other launch centers in Sichuan and Shanxi provinces and the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
The location is better for launching communications satellites, which are sent to positions over the equator.
Wenchang will also be ideal for launching the heavy-lift Long March 5, which is now under development. Stages for the larger rocket can be transported to the launch site by water. Rockets must travel by rail to the three inland launch facilities.