Wenchang Space Launch Site

Coordinates: 19°36′52.17″N 110°57′4.08″E / 19.6144917°N 110.9511333°E / 19.6144917; 110.9511333
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Wenchang Space Launch Site
LocationWenchang, Hainan, China
Coordinates19°36′52.17″N 110°57′4.08″E / 19.6144917°N 110.9511333°E / 19.6144917; 110.9511333
Total launches26
Launch pad(s)Two
Launch Complex 1 launch history
First launch3 November 2016
Long March 5
Last launch15 December 2023
Long March 5 / Yaogan 41
Long March 5
Long March 5B
Launch Complex 2 launch history
First launch25 June 2016
Long March 7 / YZ-1A
Last launch17 January 2024
Long March 7 / Tianzhou 7
Long March 7
Long March 7A
Long March 8
Hainan Commercial Pad 1 launch history
First launch18 March 2024
Long March 8 (future)
Hainan Commercial Pad 2 launch history
StatusIn construction
First launchJune 2024
Long March 12 (future)
Tianlong-3 (future)
Pallas-1 (future)
Nebula-1 (future)
Gravity-2 (future)
Kinetica 2 (future)
Wenchang Space Launch Site
Simplified Chinese文昌航天发射场
Traditional Chinese文昌航天發射場

The Wenchang Space Launch Site (Chinese: 文昌航天发射场[1][2]) is a rocket launch site located in Wenchang on the island of Hainan, in China.

Formally a suborbital test center, it currently serves as China's southernmost spaceport. The site was selected for its low latitude, 19° north of the equator, allowing for larger payloads to be launched. It is capable of launching the Long March 5, the heaviest Chinese rocket.[3] Unlike launch facilities on the mainland, Wenchang uses its seaport for deliveries.

The construction of the site was complete by October 2014.[4] The first launch took place on 25 June 2016.[5] Due to construction delays, the initial launch of the CZ-5 booster from Wenchang, originally expected to start in 2014[6] was postponed and took place on 3 November 2016.[7] The CZ-5B (maximum payload to LEO) variant was expected to be completed circa 2018[8] but the maiden flight took place on 5 May 2020. A CZ-5 carrier rocket was already shipped from North China's Tianjin port on 20 September 2015 for rehearsal drills of a scheduled Chang'e-5 lunar mission, which was planned for around 2019[9] and was successfully launched on 23 November 2020.

Reasons for selection[edit]

Geographical Location[edit]

At 19 degrees north latitude, the Wenchang Space Launch Site is located on the Chinese island of Hainan, which is the nearest to the equator among Chinese territories. Low-latitude locations are desirable for space launch sites due to the higher speed of rotation closer to the equator, as well as the smaller inclination change maneuver needed to reach geosynchronous orbit.[10] Hainan also has a large range of allowable launch azimuths, facilitating the launch of payloads to orbital inclinations between 90 and 175 degrees.

The launch site is considered to have favorable conditions for long-term development and international collaboration, thanks to its potential for expansion, low operational expenses, and relatively lenient regulatory framework. Rockets launched from Hainan Island are within 10 kilometers of the ocean in the direction of launch, and their trajectory takes them over the open ocean. This makes falling rocket debris less likely to cause accidents and destroy property

Economic potential[edit]

Wenchang Space Launch Site is in the northeast coastal section of Dongjiao Town, Wenchang City, with a coastline of roughly 4,100 meters and an area of 7,336 acres, starting from the control area of the space launch site in the north. The project is designed to include a theme park area, a central lake area (commercial and leisure function), and an ecological coconut forest region (holiday and residential function), with a total construction land area of 6,046 acres. Hainan, as a tourist destination in China with many tourism resources is predicted to grow. This space launch site was included in Hainan Province's 11th Five-Year Plan in 2010.

Planning and construction[edit]

During the Cold War the location was considered vulnerable to foreign military forces. After the Cold War ended, development plans were renewed. The construction of the new Wenchang Space Launch Center was officially approved by the State Council and the Central Military Commission of the People's Republic of China on 22 September 2007.[11]

In late October 2007, the Mayor of Wenchang announced the appropriation of 1,200 hectares (3,000 acres) of land for the center and the necessary relocation of more than 6,000 people, mostly from the villages of Longlou (龙楼, 19°39′07″N 110°57′47″E / 19.652°N 110.963°E / 19.652; 110.963 (Longlou village)) and Dongjiao (东郊, 19°34′01″N 110°52′01″E / 19.567°N 110.867°E / 19.567; 110.867 (Dongjiao village)).[12]

A November 2007 article indicated that the actual launch site would be near Longlou, while a space-science theme park would be built near Dongjiao.[13] Satellite photography taken during April 2011 shows a clearing 19°36′50″N 110°57′05″E / 19.6139°N 110.9513°E / 19.6139; 110.9513 (Possible new site of launch facility) near the beach, likely for the CZ-5 launch pad.

Launch pads[edit]

Wenchang has two launch pads:[14]

Launch history[edit]

The first launch was a Long March 7 which took place successfully on 25 June 2016.[5]

On 3 November 2016, the Long March 5 rocket made its maiden flight from the launch site.[19]

On 2 July 2017, a Long March 5 launch failed to complete its mission to put a seven ton Shijian-18 communications satellite into orbit.[20][21]

The third flight of Long March 5 occurred on 27 December 2019 from Wenchang LC-1.

The maiden flight of the Long March 5B variant took place on 5 May 2020 from Wenchang LC-1.

On 23 July 2020, the fourth flight of Long March 5 put China's first indigenous Mars orbiter/rover Tianwen-1 directly into TMI from Wenchang.[22]

The maiden flight of Long March 8 occurred on 22 December 2020 from Wenchang LC-2.

On 29 April 2021, the core module Tianhe of the China Space Station was successfully launched aboard a Long March 5B rocket from Wenchang LC-1.[23]

On 29 May 2021, a cargo resupply ship named Tianzhou-2 launched on a Long March 7 (Y3) rocket from LC-2 to rendezvous with the China Space Station as preparation for the upcoming Shenzhou-12 crewed mission.[24]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Li, Guoli; Wang, Ting (3 November 2016). ""中国文昌航天发射场"获命名,基本满足卫星发射各种要求" ["China Wenchang Space Launch Site" was named, basically meeting various requirements for satellite launch]. The Paper.cn (in Chinese).
  2. ^ "Moto Z | 海南文昌现场直击:长征五号发射!_专题_凤凰网". v.ifeng.com. Archived from the original on 4 November 2016. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  3. ^ "Hainan showcases model of Wenchang Space Center (海南首次展出文昌航天发射场设计模型图)" (in Chinese). China Picture Network (中国新闻图片网). 29 April 2008. Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  4. ^ Smith, Marcia (20 October 2014). "China's new Wenchang space launch site ready for action". spacepolicyonline.com. Retrieved 23 November 2020.
  5. ^ a b Zhao, Lei. "Next-gen Long March rocket takes record-breaking flight". China Daily.com.cn.
  6. ^ "China's New Carrier Rocket To Debut In 2014". Space Daily. 4 March 2008.
  7. ^ "Long March 5". Integrated Space Analytics. 19 July 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  8. ^ "Chang Zheng-5 (Long March-5) – SinoDefence". Sinodefence.com. Archived from the original on 3 July 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  9. ^ "China to rehearse new carrier rocket for lunar mission - Xinhua | English.news.cn". News.xinhuanet.com. 20 September 2015. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  10. ^ "Wenchang Satellite Launch Center". Google My Maps. Retrieved 21 July 2023.
  11. ^ "China to construct the new Wenchang Satellite Launch Center (中国将在海南省文昌市建设新的航天发射场)" (in Chinese). Sohu. 22 September 2007. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  12. ^ "Six Thousand People to be Resettled to Make Way for New Space Launch Center". 29 October 2010. Archived from the original on 27 March 2012. Retrieved 13 January 2011.
  13. ^ "China Completes Enclosure Of Land For Fourth Satellite Launch Center". Space Daily. 19 November 2007.
  14. ^ "Wenchang". www.astronautix.com. Retrieved 7 June 2023.
  15. ^ David, Leonard (2 April 2014). "China's New Spaceport to Launch Country's Largest Rocket Yet". Space.com. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  16. ^ "Wenchang LC101". www.astronautix.com. Retrieved 7 June 2023.
  17. ^ "More details on the Hainan Space Centre emerging – SinoDefence". Sino Defence.com. 11 July 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2016.
  18. ^ "Wenchang LC201". www.astronautix.com. Retrieved 7 June 2023.
  19. ^ "Spaceflightnow launch schedule". Spaceflightnow. Retrieved 20 October 2016.
  20. ^ "China to launch 2nd heavy-lift carrier rocket - People's Daily Online". en.people.cn.
  21. ^ "Chinese rocket fails after lift-off". BBC News. 2 July 2017.
  22. ^ Roston, Michael; Myers, Steven Lee (22 July 2020). "China's Mars Mission, Tianwen-1, Begins Its Monthslong Journey". The New York Times.
  23. ^ Jones, Andrew (29 April 2021). "China launches Tianhe space station core module into orbit". SpaceNews. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  24. ^ Wall, Mike (29 May 2021). "China launches new cargo ship to Tianhe space station module". Space.com. Retrieved 5 June 2021.

External links[edit]