2
$\begingroup$

As far as I can find, 3 out of 4 launch sites that the Chinese space program uses are far inland with launch trajectories that go over populated areas. This strikes me as odd, because unlike Russia, China has plenty of East-facing coastline at low latitudes where launch sites could be built, similar to the eastern coast of Florida.

Why doesn't China have more coastal launch sites? Was the decision for their locations a political decision?

$\endgroup$
1
4
$\begingroup$

There are a couple of reasons why one might want to put launch sites on the coast:

  • You don't want to drop rockets on people. Only relevant if you actually care about people.

  • Access to a port, for parts that are too large to ship over land. Only relevant if you care about not blowing up mountains, filling up valleys. Also, only relevant if you have to convince Senators from dozens of States to allocate funds to you by promising to build the rocket parts in their respective States and then ship them to the launch site.

These reasons don't apply to China. OTOH, land bases can only be attacked by land, air, or from space. Coastal bases can be attacked from the water, by land, air, or from space. One less attack vector to defend from.

$\endgroup$
4
  • $\begingroup$ Is this too cynical? I can try to tone it down. $\endgroup$ – Jörg W Mittag Oct 21 '20 at 19:40
  • $\begingroup$ There's no question that dropping rockets on people is not a major concern there and there are plenty of documented instances of them falling at least nearby where small groups of people are living. For "blowing up mountains, filling up valleys" is there some spaceflight-related example of this? For economic growth to raise standards of living a good ground-transportation network is required, e.g. Interstate Highway System and sometimes it has bad effects or might even be seen as malicious... $\endgroup$ – uhoh Oct 21 '20 at 21:49
  • $\begingroup$ See Robert Moses and The Power Broker. In the case of China one goal is to raise a significant fraction of a billion people out of poverty (I've seen it) now that they are all connected to the internet and can see what is possible for many in the cities. This has had a huge impact on the living due to the Pollution in China (I've breathed it); the impact of the geo-engineering aspects you mention... $\endgroup$ – uhoh Oct 21 '20 at 22:02
  • $\begingroup$ (e.g. Three Gorges Dam and Tibet railway) are small in comparison to the effects of pollution. So to "Is this too cynical?" I think as long as you can tie it into the government or business aspects of spaceflight and keep it fact based, then it can be part of an answer. Other references to dropping rocket bodies on land can be found here and here. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Oct 21 '20 at 22:02

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