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Interview: China's manned space mission marks "great first step": U.S. expert
by Staff Writers
Houston (XNA) Jul 02, 2012

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The Shenzhou-9 manned space mission is a "great first step" for the future development of China's space program and also exciting news for people all around the world, a U.S. expert has said.

In a recent exclusive interview with Xinhua, Carolyn T. Sumners, vice president of the Astronomy at Houston Museum of Natural Sciences, said it is logical for a country's space program "to go from the single flight to the flight with many astronauts, to the docking to some kind of space port, space station, or a space habitat."

The Shenzhou-9 spacecraft, which took off on June 16 with three Chinese astronauts aboard, including China's first female astronaut, made a successful landing Friday morning, after carrying out the country's first manual docking.

With over 30 years of working experience in the field of space research and education, Sumners said she was still quite excited by the Chinese space mission as it included a female astronaut.

"I remember when we sent our first female, it was very exciting for all of the girls in my classes," she said.

As men and women are playing increasingly equal roles, it is important for Chinese women to see one of their own being in space, she added.

For the Chinese people, who have dreamed of flying into space for thousands of years, the Chinese space mission is also an old dream coming true, said Sumners, who is also an adjunct professor at the renowned Rice University in Houston.

The Chinese people are the world's first astronomers, who had watched and kept the earliest records of eclipses and other extraordinary phenomena staged in the sky, Sumners said, adding that it is almost a Chinese tradition to look into the sky and to dream of the stars.

The U.S. expert also suggested that China and other space powers, especially the United States, work together on space programs as the costs of such programs are spiraling out of reach for individual countries.

The time is "right" for the two countries' space cooperation, said Sumners. "It wasn't right 10 years ago when China was far behind the U.S.."

After years of development, China now has the capacity to share technological materials with the United States, said Sumners.

"The two countries are now equals, not as one dominating the other, but both needing each other. And that's the way you get cooperation," she said.

Source: Xinhua News Agency


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