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China Upgrades Satellite Launch Tower

A launch tower at a major satellite launch center in southwest China has been upgraded to increase the country's satellite launch competitiveness.

Use of the No. 3 tower at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in Sichuan Province would alternate with the No.2 tower and it was possible that two rockets could be erected simultaneously, a center spokesman said.

The upgrade will improve China's launching competitiveness in the international arena, the spokesman said.

In the next five years, the Xichang center would develop the capability to launch more than 10 satellites a year, the spokesman said.

Set up in 1983, the No. 3 tower is mainly used to launch geosynchronous satellites on Long March-3 carrier rockets and polar orbit satellites on Long March-2C rockets.

It has successfully launched 16 satellites, including China's first experimental communications satellite Dongfanghong-2.

New technologies such as remote control, a real-time three-dimensional display system and a low-temperature fuel concentration warning system were introduced to the upgraded launch tower, making it more advanced, highly-automated and safer, the spokesman said.

The Xichang Satellite Launch Center was established in 1970. It will launch China's first lunar-probing satellite in 2007.

(Xinhua News Agency December 31, 2006)

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