This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Japanese Wikipedia. (April 2013)
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The facility became operational in 1984 and is primarily used to launch powerful thrust rockets and geostationary communications and weather satellites. It is notable as the site of Sino-European space cooperation, with the launch of the first of two Double Star scientific satellites in December 2003. Chinese officials have indicated interest in conducting additional international satellite launches from XSLC.
In 1996, a fatal accident occurred when the rocket carrying the Intelsat 708 satellite failed on launch from the Xichang Satellite Launch Center. Also, a 2007 test of an anti-satellite missile occurred from the center.
In order to support the Chinese Project 714 manned space program in the 1960s, the construction of a new space center at Xichang in the Sichuan province was decided, located farther from the Soviet border, thus safer. The Shuguang One spacecraft was expected to be launched from the launch pad number one. After the cancellation of the program the launch pad was never completed. Today a viewing platform for officials has been built at the site.
On February 15, 1996 a fatal accident occurred when the first new Long March 3B heavy carrier rocket carrying Intelsat 708 veered off course 22 seconds after launch, crashing 1200 meters away from the launch pad in a nearby mountain village, destroying 80 homes. According to the official report, six people died and 56 were injured. The number of civilian deaths has been disputed.
China launched its first Long March-3C carrier rocket on April 25, 2008. This was the 105th mission of China's Long March series of rockets, and also the launch of the nation's first data relay satellite (数据中继卫星) Tianlian I (天链一号).
With the completion of the upgrade of Wenchang Satellite Launch Center scheduled for 2013, all the GEO missions will be transferred to this new space center. The high number of negatives for this[clarification needed] center, such as its higher latitude, the possibility of rocket stages falling on inhabited areas (Guizhou) and limited transport infrastructures, the Xichang Satellite Launch Center will no longer be used for civilian duties. However it will not be closed, it will be kept to serve as a backup launch site.
XSLC’s Technical Center is state of the art and is equipped for testing and integration of the payload and launch vehicle. Its Mission Command and Control Center is located 7 km southwest of the launch pad and provides flight and safety control during overall system rehearsal and launch. It is serviced by a dedicated railway and highway directly from Xichang Qingshan Airport, which is 50 kilometers away from the launch site. Two launch complexes at the facility support flight operations.