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Ningbo to build $3.05b rocket launchpad site

The port city of Ningbo in Zhejiang province is building a 20 billion yuan ($3.05 billion) rocket launch site to meet surging demand for putting satellites into orbit and further develop the industrial cluster of the commercial aerospace sector, according to the local authorities.

Highlighted in the recently revealed draft for mega projects in Zhejiang during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25), the launch center will come up in Xiangshan county of the coastal city and will be able to put 100 satellites in orbit every year upon completion.

The Xiangshan center, located 30 degrees north of the equator, is suitable for launching satellites, thanks to its convenient transportation and an advantageous environment. It is scheduled to be spread over 67 square kilometers, including a 35-sq-km launch site and a 32-sqkm space industrial base.

The launch site will consist of a commercial space launch site, assembly and test center, docking center, command and control center, while the industrial base will include a rocket satellite research and development and manufacturing base and satellite data application industrial base.

The Ningbo municipal government signed a strategic cooperation framework agreement with the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology in December last year to jointly build the center at Xiangshan's Ningbo Aerospace Science and Technology Town.

During the recent two sessions in Beijing, Dou Xiaoyu, vice-president of China Aerospace Construction Group and a National People's Congress deputy, said the aerospace launch sector in the country will see a boom in the next five to 10 years and it is necessary to set up a launch center exclusively for commercial satellites.

China has three inland rocket launch centers in Gansu province's Jiuquan, Shanxi province's Taiyuan, Sichuan province's Xichang as well as a coastal rocket launch center in Hainan province's Wenchang.

Cai Jingwencontributed to this story.

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