China to resettle thousands for space launch site

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BEIJING, Oct 29 (Reuters) More than 6,000 people will be forced from their homes on China's southern island of Hainan to make way for the country's newest space launch centre, Xinhua news agency reported today.

Yan Zheng, mayor of Wenchang, where China's fourth space launch site is to be completed by 2012, said 1,200 hectares (almost 3,000 acres) of land would be needed for the centre, and current residents would have to be resettled, the report said.

A space-themed park, with a budget of 937 million dollars and occupying another 400 hectares, will also be built near the launch centre and could create jobs for some of those resettled, Xinhua said.

China, which in 2003 sent a man into space, is investing heavily in its space programme. Last week it launched a moon orbiter that is to spend a year scanning the lunar surface in preparation for an eventual manned landing.

China's existing launch centres are in the northern province of Shanxi and the western provinces of Sichuan and Gansu.

REUTERS SKB BD2015

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