by Staff Writers
Beijing (XNA) Dec 19, 2011
China held a rally on Friday to celebrate the success of the country's first space docking mission between the target orbiter Tiangong-1 and the Shenzhou-8 spacecraft.
President Hu Jintao, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, gave a speech at the meeting.
Members of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau Wu Bangguo, Wen Jiabao, Jia Qinglin, Li Changchun, Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, He Guoqiang and Zhou Yongkang also attended the meeting.
After the Nov. 1 lift-off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center, Shenzhou-8 successfully rendezvoused and docked twice with the Tiangong-1 space lab module, which was launched from the same site on Sept. 29.
President Hu Jintao described the success of the space docking mission as a milestone in China's manned space program and a remarkable contribution to mankind's exploration of space.
Hu commended Chinese space scientists and engineers for having achieved a number of breakthroughs in unmanned space tests, manned space missions, extravehicular activities and space docking over the past 19 years.
"The glorious achievement of China's manned space program has strengthened national cohesion and the confidence of all Chinese people," Hu said.
"It has also strengthened Chinese people's will to continue the opening-up drive and reform, and pursue the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics," Hu said.
Hu said the CPC leadership and the socialist system provided a "political advantage" for the progress of the country's manned space program.
Despite progress made in the country's space program, President Hu also said that China's overall level of scientific technologies, especially indigenous innovation capabilities, lagged far behind world-leading standards.
"We must have a sense of urgency and crisis," Hu said, adding that there is a long way to go for China to build up an innovation-oriented country.
"We must improve our capabilities for original innovation, integrated innovation and re-innovation through digesting introduced technologies to transform to an innovation-driven economy and society," Hu said.
Thanks to an economic boom that has continued since the end of the 1970s, the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau officially approved China's three-step manned space program on Sept. 21, 1992.
The first phase - to send the first astronaut to space and return him safely - was fulfilled by Yang Liwei in the Shenzhou-5 mission in 2003. After another two astronauts successfully completed extravehicular activities in the Shenzhou-7 mission in 2008, China entered the second phase of its space program: space docking.
According the program, China will conduct two more docking tests on Tiangong-1 with Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 - hopefully with an astronaut on board - within about one year after the first successful test.
General Chang Wanquan, commander-in-chief of the manned space program, said at the celebratory ceremony that China conducts its space docking tests in a cost-effective way by docking a single Tiangong-1 module with multiple spacecraft.
Gen. Chang said Chinese space scientists and engineers with indigenous innovation capabilities have insured the program's success. According to him, 85 percent of the designers serving the program are under 35 years old.
If the first two steps succeed, China plans to develop and launch multiple space modules, with a goal of assembling a 60-tonne manned space station around 2020 in which Chinese astronauts will begin more research projects in space.
"We will concentrate our resources on major projects concerning national security and people's livelihood to realize a comprehensive advancement of economic, scientific and technological powers," Hu said.
The president also asked the scientific staff to better serve the country's economic constructions and people's needs, and speed up the process of turning scientific achievement into industrial productivity.
"The Chinese people are willing to walk hand-in-hand with people from around the world in exploring space in peaceful ways and strengthening international cooperation on space technologies," Hu said.
Source: Xinhua News Agency
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from SinoDaily.com
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