We know that launching rockets near the coast is safe for human settlement areas in case a failure occurs. But, why does China launch its rockets so far from the coast (near hills)? Many launch sites of China like Xichang, Taiyuan, Jiuquan lie far from the Pacific Ocean except Wenchang. Is there any benefits of launching rockets far away from ocean?

In 2015, part of a booster of a Long March 4C rocket struck a house in Shanxi after a launch from the Taiyuan facility, cutting a sizable hole into the roof. In 1996, a Long March rocket carrying a U.S.-manufactured satellite crashed into a hillside 22 seconds after liftoff at Xichang. Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency, reported that the accident killed six people and injured 57, but some suspect the toll was much higher.

So if launching rockets over land can be so dangerous, why did China build its facilities so far inland?

Perhaps this has something to do with China's geopolitical issues.

Note: I am aware that my question isn't the same as this and this. enter image description here

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ "They simply do not care" ... Short Answer. $\endgroup$
    – CallMeTom
    Jun 23, 2020 at 6:06
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Because they don't really have much open coast. If they launched from the coast the boosters might land on other countries, and they want to avoid that $\endgroup$ Jun 23, 2020 at 10:00
  • $\begingroup$ I recall seeing and answer on this but can't seem to find it anymore $\endgroup$ Jun 23, 2020 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ Related question space.stackexchange.com/q/20957/29286 $\endgroup$ Jun 23, 2020 at 10:01
  • $\begingroup$ related: Does China have a “space coast”? Will it? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jun 26, 2020 at 1:04

1 Answer 1


The reason why the launch sites are built inland goes back to the Cold War.

Western commentators have expressed surprise at the selection of a launch site so far inland, in difficult terrain, with poor communication facilities in a relatively populated rural area. The Chinese subsequently explained that during the tense seventies, an inland site was preferred, because coastal sites, though more southerly, were vulnerable to attack by China's enemies. Brian Harvey

Basically the launch sites were built inland to reduce the potential for combatants to target and destroy the facilities. As a result the architecture to support the Long March 2, 3 and 4 is all on inland launch sites and they currently account for most Chinese launches. However nowadays, since China don't have to worry as much about that, we've seen the construction of the cryogenic fuel Wenchang launch site on the coast, designed to launch the Long March 5, 7, 8 and 9. The Long March 7 is designed to replace the Long March 2, 3 and 4 launches, becoming the China launcher workhorse and accounting for 70% of all launches. This will remove the need for most inland launch sites launches, but until the Long March 7 is launching at a high rate, we will continue to see flights from inland.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Good answer. In modern times, from the First Opium War to the Third Taiwan Strait Crisis, China was hopelessly outclassed and outnumbered at sea. China becoming a naval power is a fairly recent thing. $\endgroup$
    – Rainer P.
    Jun 23, 2020 at 13:50
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The Russian space program has its launch sites pretty far inland as well. While Russia does have a fairly large east coast from which to launch that would provide the same advantages as NASA's choice of Cape Canaveral, this part of Russia is very sparsely populated, and very, very distant from most of their industrial production, far negating any advantages of launching over water. $\endgroup$ Jun 23, 2020 at 15:51
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ In fact the Taiyuan center was built due to the concern that Jiuquan, which was built with Soviet aids, would be taken out first in a Sino-Soviet conflict. $\endgroup$
    – Mys_721tx
    Jun 26, 2020 at 2:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.