China offered a rare glimpse of its human spaceflight center on Wednesday, drawing back — if only slightly — the veil of secrecy around China’s ambitions in outer space.
A nine-hour train ride and a four-hour drive from the nearest city, past rusted tanks and scrapped fighter jets that dot the barren desert of Gansu Province, the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center is an oasis of verdant lawns and trees.
Foreign journalists got their first view of the huge complex on Wednesday, eerily empty despite being home to 15,000 people.
No rockets or space capsules — or even models of them — were on display.
A sprawling but abandoned mission control and a 312-foot-tall (95-meter-tall) assembly platform were seen briefly, but guides preferred to show off the gigantic swimming pool and an eggplant greenhouse.
The Jiuquan complex, one of the few remaining areas in China still off limits to foreigners, stands in stark contrast to its U.S. counterpart, Johnson Space Center in Houston, which is easily accessible and open to tourists.