Space


Base 20 Jiuquan Space Facility

The East Wind launch facility (sometimes referred to in the West as Shuang Cheng-Tzu) is located near Jiuquan, at the southern edge of the Gobi Desert in Kansu Province. It was China's first satellite launch center. The coordinates of the launch site are 100 degrees East and 41 degrees North. The Jiuquan Airport is 75km south of JSLC. A dedicated railway at JSLC directly leads to the launch site.

JSLC's state of the art facilities provide support to every phase of a satellite launch campaign. It includes the Technical Center, the Launch Complex, the Launch Control Center, the Mission Command and Control Center, propellant fueling system, TT&C system, communications system, gas supply system, weather forecast system, and logistic support system, etc. JSLC is mainly used to launch scientific and recoverable satellites to the Medium or Low Earth Orbit at high inclinations on Long March launch vehicles.

Construction of range facilities could have begun in 1957 and almost certainly was well under way in 1958. The rangehead is located about 50nm northeast of Shuang-cheng-tzu on a rail spur off the Urumcji-Lanzhou rail line. It is a large instrumented area dispersed along a 30-mile stretch of the Etsin River, comprising a surface-to-surface missile (SSM) 1aunch area, a surface-to-air missile (SAM) launch area, a large main support base containing nearly 200 buildings, a smaller support base servicing the SSM and SAM complexes, a large SSM and SAM assembly area, two revetted storage areas, and several smaller housing and support areas.

The three SSM launch complexes were arbitrarily designated by US intelligence as the "A", "B" and and "C" complex. As of early 1963 the "A" complex appeared to be completed and operational. This complex contains two large concrete pads suitable for firing ballistic missiles served by paved loop-access roads, a control bunker and a drive-through check-out building. Discoloration of the southern pad as well as the possible presence of launching and mobile servicing equipment indicated that firings had occurred. As of early 1963 the other pad appeared to be very clean, but it could also have been used for firings. The two pads under construction at launch complex "B" strongly resemble those at complex "A". Excavation for the pads had been completed by 1963, but construction appeared to have been suspended. Launch complex "C" has one pad and a drive-through building. Construction work appeared to be nearly complete by 1963, and the launch pad could have been used by that time. The ranges of the missile systems to be tested from these facilities cannot be determined from US overhead photography.

The launch sites are oriented towards the west and the down-range instrumentation is also in that direction. The desert terrain to the west allows the firing of surface-to-surface missiles to ranges of up to 1,100nm within Chinese territory. The pads, associated revetments, and support areas in launch complex "A" closely resemble Soviet facilities at Kapustin Yar used for 700, and probably for 1.,000 n.m. ballistic missiles. launch complex "C" bears resemblance to other Soviet cruise missile launching facilities at Kapustin Yar. The two surface-to-air missile launch sites also resemble SA-2 launch facilities at Kapustin-Yar. The support facilities are also built on the Soviet model.

The size of the missile rangehead at Shuang-cheng-tzu connoted a very large program. The facilities available at the test center were sufficient to provide a considerable physical capability to carry out extensive missile research and development programs and some troop training. Housing appeared adequate for at least 20,000 people. The Soviets probably provided technical assistance at least through mid-1960, and early firings probably involved missiles of Soviet manufacture.

A successful test launch of the DF-1 (CSS-1) medium range ballistic missile was made in 1966. In April 1970, the DFH-1 satellite was successfully launched aboard the Long March-1 rocket, an improved version of the DF-3 (CSS-2), making China the fifth nation to put a satellite into space, after the Soviet Union, the US, France and Japan. The Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center is used for low altitude posigrade missions with inclinations of 40 degrees or more. All CZ-2C and CZ-2D launches originate at Jiuquan.

Photographic Evaluation Report

As of October 2003 there is coverage of Jiuquan from a variety of high resolution imagery products, including Declassified KH-4 CORONA, KH-7 GAMBIT, as well as Russian KRV-1000 2-meter, Space Imaging Ikonos 1-meter, and DigitalGlobe sub-meter imagery. The most recent image of the launch facility was taken by Space Imaging 4 October 2003 in anticipation of the the first manned Chinese space launch.




NEWSLETTER
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list