Jiuquan Space Launch Center

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Last Updated: November 17, 2011
Other Name: 酒泉卫星发射中心; Shuangchengzi Missile Test Center; Launch Complex B2; formally Northwest Comprehensive Missile Testing Facility (西北综合导弹试验基地); Base 20; 63600 Unit
Location: Jiuquan, Gansu Province; Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region
Subordinate To: General Armaments Department (GAD) of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA)
Size: Covers area of 2,800 km
Facility Status: Active


The Jiuquan Space Launch Center (JSLC) was established in 1958 with Soviet assistance and is China’s longest-serving rocket facility. [1] China hosted hundreds of surface-to-surface ballistic missile tests and launched numerous remote sensing satellites from here. [2] China’s first and only missile-delivered nuclear test was launched from here on a DF-2 missile. [3]

Jiuquan is located in northwest Gansu province. It was originally known in the West as Base 20, or Shuang Cheng Tzu/ Shuangchengzi after a near-by village. [4] The majority of China’s initial missile testing and development work was conducted here up to about 1980. [5] Notable tests from the Launch Complex include Dongfeng-4 intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) and Dongfeng-5, China’s first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). [6]

The oldest launch area is called Number Three Launch Site Zone and it became operational in 1960 when China tested the R-2 missile here. [7] In 1967, China constructed a new launch pad called 5020. This pad supported the launch of DF-2 medium range ballistic missile, as well as the DF-3 and DF-4 intermediate range ballistic missiles. [8] In 1969, another launch pad called 138 was constructed very close to 5020. Pad 138 supported the launch of DF-5, China’s first ICBM, in 1971. [9] China built another launch area in 1999 to support heavier space launch vehicles (SLV). [10] It is currently the primary launch area at Jiuquan today. It comprises a vertical assembly building, a mobile launch pad, and two gantry towers at Pad 921 and Pad 603. China launched its first manned rocket, the Shenzhou 5, from Pad 921 in 2003. [11]

In January 2010, Jiuquan participated in a missile defense test. The site was used to launch a CSS-X-11 medium-range ballistic missile as a target for an interceptor known in the US as the SC-19. US intelligence detected the powered flight of each missile, as well as the intercept. [12] China said very little about the test, although acknowledged that it was a success. [13]

While still controlled by the military, Jiuquan has become a launch site for the civilian satellite and manned space program, with its prior military functions moved elsewhere. The facility is used to launch satellites into low earth orbit (LEO) with LongMarch-2C, LongMarch-2D, and LongMarch-4 rockets, as well as solar synchronous orbit (SSO) satellites with the LongMarch-2F. [14]

In 1970, China launched its first satellite, the Dongfanghong 1, from this facility. [15] In 1999, it launched Shenzhou-1, the precursor shuttle to China’s manned space missions. [16] In March 2010, JSLC launched a Chinese Yaogan-9 surveillance satellite. [17]

The China Great Wall Industry Corporation, a subsidiary of the China Aerospace and Technology Corporation (CASC), markets Jiuquan commercial launch services to international customers. [18] Jiuquan completed is first successful international mission in 1992 when it launched a Swedish corporation’s scientific satellite. [19] In May 2011, Venezuela signed an agreement for launch services from Jiuquan for the Venezuela Remote-Sensing Satellite Project. [20]

In 2003, Jiuquan became the first spaceport to launch a Chinese-crewed space mission. [21] In September 2011, China launched a space laboratory module known as Tiangong-1 or “Heavenly Palace,” from JLSC. [22] Two months after Tiangong-1 was launched into orbit, China launched an unmanned space craft, the Shenzhou-8, which was the first Chinese space craft to dock with the International Space Station. This mission also included a series of bilateral space experiments with Germany. [23] In May 2012, JSLC launched China’s Tianhui I-02 mapping satellite using a Long March-2D rocket. [24] As part of China’s efforts to have a permanently manned space station by 2020, Jiuquan launched a manned spacecraft, called the Shenzhou-9, to rendezvous with the Tiangong-1 in June 2012 in order to test manual and remote dockings with the space station. [25]

Sources:
[1] “中国长城工业集团有限公司[China Great Wall Industry Group Company, Ltd.],” China Great Wall Industry Corporation, Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, www.cgwic.com.
[2] “世界主要航天发射场: 酒泉卫星发射中心 [Global Important Launch Pad: Jiuquan Space Launch Center],” Sina Aerospace, 23 December 2009, http://mil.news.sina.com.cn.
[3] John Lewis and Hua Di, “China’s Ballistic Missile Programs: Technologies, Strategies, Goals,” International Security, vol. 17, no. 2, 1992, pg. 15, http://cisac.stanford.edu.
[4] “Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre,” SinoDefence.com, 29 October 2011, www.sinodefence.com; “Launch Sites: Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center,” Great Wall Industry Corporation, www.cgwic.com.
[5] “Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre,” Jane’s Space Systems and Industry, 17 June 2011.
[6] Robert Norris, Andrew S. Burrows and Richard Fieldhouse, Nuclear Weapons Databook, Volume 5 (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994), p. 339.
[7] Iris Chang, Thread of a Silkworm (New York, NY: Basic, 1995); John Lewis and Hua Di, “China’s Ballistic Missile Programs: Technologies, Strategies, Goals,” International Security, vol. 17, no. 2, 1992, pg. 7, http://cisac.stanford.edu; “当代中国的航天事业 [Foreign Technology Division, Aerospace Activities in Modern China],” www.dtic.mil.
[8] “当代中国的航天事业 [Foreign Technology Division, Aerospace Activities in Modern China],” Chapters 1-3 Part 4, 1986, p.11, www.dtic.mil.
[9] John Lewis and Hua Di, “China’s Ballistic Missile Programs: Technologies, Strategies, Goals,” International Security, vol. 17, no. 2, 1992, pg. 19, http://cisac.stanford.edu.
[10] Mark Wade, “Jiuquan,” Encyclopedia Astronautica, www.astronautix.com.
[11] Rui C. Barbosa, “China Launches Three Person Crew on Shenzhou-10,” NASA Space Flight, 10 June 2013, www.nasaspaceflight.com.
[12] "Demarche Following China's January 2010 Intercept Flight-Test," The Telegraph, 2 February 2011, www.telegraph.co.uk.
[13] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, “Spokesperson Jiang Yu’s Regular Press Conference on January 12, 2010,” 12 January 2010, www.fmprc.gov.cn.
[14] “Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre,” SinoDefence.com, 29 October 2011, www.sinodefence.com.
[15] Mark Stokes with Dean Cheng, “China’s Evolving Space Capabilities: Implications for U.S. Interests,” Project 2049, 26 April 2012, pp. 12-13, http://project2049.net.
[16] Robert Norris, Andrew S. Burrows and Richard Fieldhouse, Nuclear Weapons Databook, Volume 5 (Boulder: Westview Press, 1994), p. 339; and Stephen Chen, “Space City in the Desert Not so Secret; The Birthplace of the Nation’s Missile and Space Programmes – and Still One of the Most Active Launch Pads – Has Become a lot More Transparent,” South China Morning Post, 20 June 2012.
[17] Stephen Chen, “Space City in the Desert Not so Secret; The Birthplace of the Nation’s Missile and Space Programmes – and Still One of the Most Active launch Pads – Has Become a lot More Transparent,” South China Morning Post, 20 June 2012.
[18] “Strategic Weapons Systems, China,” Jane’s Sentinel Security Assessment, 17 January 2011.
[19] “Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre,” Jane’s Space Systems and Industry, 17 June 2011.
[20] “Launch Sites: Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center,” Great Wall Industry Corporation, www.cgwic.com.
[21] Mark Stokes with Dean Cheng, “China’s Evolving Space Capabilities: Implications for U.S. Interests,” Project 2049, 26 April 2012, p. 53, http://project2049.net.
[22] “China's First Space Lab Module Tiangong-1 Blasts Off,” Xinhua, 29 September 2011, http://news.xinhuanet.com.
[23] “China’s Unmanned Spacecraft Shenzhou-8 Returns after Docking Mission,” Xinhua, 17 November 2011, http://news.xinhuanet.com; Amy Svitak, “Sino-German Experiments to Fly on Next Unmanned Shenzhou,” Aerospace Daily & Defense Report, 1 November 2011.
[24] “China Launches New Mapping Satellite,” Xinhua, 6 May 2012, http://news.xinhuanet.com.
[25] “China’s Central Authorities Congratulate Successful Shenzhou-9 Landing,” Xinhua, 29 June 2012, http://news.xinhuanet.com; “China Voices Willingness for Aerospace Cooperation with U.S.,” Xinhua, 12 June 2012, http://news.xinhuanet.com.

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