There are three space launch bases currently operating in China—in Gansu Province's Jiuquan, Sichuan Province's Xichang and Shanxi Province's Taiyuan.
Founded in 1958, the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center is China's earliest space launch base, where most of the country's space launches and tests have been conducted. At a mean elevation of 1,000 meters and covering 2,800 square km, the launch center is mainly used to send satellites into lower and medium orbits with large orbital inclination angles. It is also capable of testing medium- and long-range missiles.
Over the past four decades and more, the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center has made nine successful history-making launches, including the testing of China's first short-range missile, the launch of China's first manmade satellite, Dongfanghong 1, on April 24,1970, the testing of a long-range launch vehicle to the Pacific Ocean, a launch in 1981 that sent three satellites into the orbit atop a single rocket, and the first manned space mission, Shenzhou 5, on October 15, 2003.
The Taiyuan center launched the country's first meteorological satellite, Fengyun-1A, in September 1988. The center, founded in March 1966 and put into operation in 1968, is capable of launching satellites into both medium and low orbits. It has successfully launched eight types of satellites into space, including meteorological satellites, iridium communication satellites for Motorola and earth resources satellites. It is hemmed in by mountains on all sides and stands at an elevation of 1,500 meters.
The Xichang Satellite Launch Center is designed mainly to launch powerful thrust rockets and geo-stationary satellites. Also at an average elevation of 1,500 meters, the center is known for its agreeable weather and picturesque scenery. On July 16, 1990, China's first Long March CZ- 2 strap-on launch vehicle successfully blasted off from Xichang and sent an experimental Pakistani scientific satellite and a Chinese satellite into orbit.
(Source: Xinhua News Agency)