Xichang Satellite Launch Center

Owner / Operator:
China Great Wall Industry Corporation
Xichang, Liangshan, Sichuan, China
Time zone:
1,542 m (5,059 ft)

Xichang Satellite Launch Center is one of China's four active launch facilities and is used to launch Long March rockets.

The Xichang Satellite Launch Center is a Chinese spaceport used to launch Long March 3A, 3B and 3C rockets. Historic launches from Xichang have included Chang’e 1, China’s first lunar orbiter, and the maiden launches of the Long March 2E and 3C rockets.


Xichang Satellite Launch Center was first proposed in the 1960s to support China’s Shuguang One crewed space programme. However, when the Shuguang One project was abandoned, construction of the site continued to support launches of the country’s Long March family of rockets. The site became operational in 1984 with two launchpads LC-2 and LC-3. Construction on a third pad was abandoned with the facility being converted into a viewing area.

Today, both LC-2 and LC-3 are utilised to launch Long March 3A and 3B rockets. LC-2 also hosts Long March 2C launches.

1996 disaster

The Xichang Satellite Launch Center has long been controversial in the international launch community for its proximity to populated areas. On February 15, 1996, those fears were realised. During the launch of a Long March 3B, a fault caused the rocket to veer off course and crashed into a nearby village 22 seconds after liftoff. Although the number of deaths is disputed, at least six people were killed and 56 injured. The accident forced Chinese officials to issue evacuation warnings before every launch going forward.

Future of the center

Although the Xichang Satellite Launch Center is currently one of China’s primary launch facilities, its altitude and the potential of spent stages landing on populated areas has prompted officials to accelerate construction of the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center. Once construction is completed at Wenchang, all orbital launches intended for Xichang will be shifted to the new site. Xichang will then remain open to serve as a backup launch site.