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See full size imageAiming to set up a space station in near future, China has began erecting its fourth rocket launching centre on the Hainan island in the
southern part of the country.

The Hainan Space Launch Centre would come up near the Wenchang city in the north-east coast of the island and would be operational by 2013, official Xinhua news agency reported, quoting Wang Weichang, who has been appointed the director of the station.

Wang said the new launch pad would be used for the launch of large space stations, deep space-probe satellites, synchronous satellites and would be China's first coastal launch centre located at the lowest altitude.

China's space programme is run by the military and setting up of a fourth launching station comes as Beijing also prepares for future manned space flights.

These space flights would be launched on a new generation of rockets to be called Long March series, first of which would be launched from the Hainan pad in 2014, China Daily reported.

Wang also said the new launching pad located north of the equator would also allow China to get its share of international commercial space launchers.

China has already put a man in space in 2003, becoming only the third nation to do so after Russia and US.

In September last year, Chinese astronauts carried out a 68 hour space walk on-board Shenzhou VII spacecraft, which is likely to form the basis for a planned space station.
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