China Makes Strides In Space Technology
The model of the carrier rocket CZ-2 F, and its launch pad, recently erected in Tiananmen Square in central Beijing, has been an attraction for local residents and tourists from other parts of China.
On Oct. 15, 2003, China surprised the world by sending its first astronaut Yang Liwei into space aboard a Shenzhou V spacecraft atop a CZ-2 F launch vehicle. The event made China the third country to put a man in space, following the former Soviet Union and the United States.
Before the People's Republic of China, or New China, was founded in 1949, the country was technologically backward, poor and weak, and generations of Chinese people had suffered humiliations and hardship as the country experienced a century of invasions and civil wars.
China's troops were defeated in the Opium War (1840-1842) by invading British troops. Beijing was captured in 1900 by allied troops of eight Western countries, and Nanjing was occupied by Japanese troops in 1937.
With the country's humiliations from backwardness fresh in its memory, New China launched its space research program in the 1960s to improve its defense capability and peaceful use and exploitation of space.
Starting from scratch, China has scored surprising achievements in space technology since then.
China has successfully launched a total of 80 space flights using its Long March rocket carriers since April 1970, when it putits first home-made science satellite into orbit. To date, China has sent about 70 satellites, including those manufactured by foreign companies, into orbit.
Long Lehao, member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and general commander of the Long March IIIA Rocket Carrier Project, said the success rate of the Long March rocket series exceeded 90 percent, an internationally accepted benchmark for carrier rockets.
The success rates of similar models of rocket, such as the Delta rocket of the United States and those of Europe, stand at around 93 percent, he said.
In the field of satellite research and development, China has developed various types of satellites for telecommunications, meteorology, science, resource exploration, navigation, broadcasting and other purpose.
China is now focusing on more ambitious space programs, including lunar probes and the establishment of space stations.
Shortly after the successful manned flight last year, Zhang Qingwei, deputy general commander of China's manned spaceflight program, announced plans to build a space laboratory and station in the next few decades.
Rocket expert Long said China has been working on a new generation of more powerful launch vehicles with high reliability, low cost and low pollution to meet the needs of the next three decades and more for launching heavy satellites and lunar probing devices.
Sun Laiyan, director of the China National Space Administration, said earlier this year that China is scheduled to launch its second manned spacecraft in 2005, and Chinese astronauts will conduct space experiments during the mission.
Sun announced in February this year that China planned to launch a satellite to orbit the moon by 2007 as part of the country's three-stage lunar project. It will be followed by the landing of an unmanned vehicle on the Moon by 2010 and collecting samples of lunar soil with an unmanned vehicle by 2020.
He described the satellite project as an important step toward China's exploration of deeper space, and the Moon would provide a good platform from which to explore.
As China's space sector progresses, tens of thousands of young Chinese professionals working for China's manned space project, are playing an increasingly important role in that development of the country's space sector future, senior space experts say.
Among them is rocket expert Zhang Qingwei, around 40, who is also general manager of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. and manufacturer of the Long March carrier rockets, satellites and spacecraft.
About 100,000 employees work for the corporation, including Yuan Jiajun, 42, chief commander of the spacecraft system and president of the China Academy of Space Technology; and rocket expert Wu Yansheng, 40, president of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology.
Wang Yongzhi, chief general designer of China's Manned Spaceflight Program, who is 72, said there is no lack of successors for China's future space endeavors.
About 80 percent of the thousands of young professionals tempered in the 12 year-old space project are under 40, with some even under 30, he said.
Source: Xinhua News Agency
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The Year Of Shenzhou
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Oct 05, 2004
It's roughly one year since Yang Liwei became China's first astronaut. The ascendancy of China to the elite club of human spaceflight nations has produced a curious mix of effects, both within China itself and around the world.
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