Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

China's Space Ambitions
by Andrei Kislyakov
RIA Novosti political commentator
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Aug 07, 2008

Since 2003 China has launched 24 Chang Zheng carrier rockets and 22 domestically developed satellites of various types.

Everyone seems to be sure the Olympic Games in Beijing are destined to be a success. Given the scale of preparations, the event is likely to be unprecedented.

The Chinese are highly motivated and committed, which, combined with a phased approach, enables them to succeed in implementing any programs which Beijing turns its attention to.

The space program, along with purely military projects, is a number one priority for the Chinese government. It is therefore beyond doubt that the next decade will be marked with a major reshuffle on the space "chessboard". If China succeeds in executing its plans, it is likely to take the lead in space exploration in the near future.

This conclusion could easily be drawn from the history of China's space program.

It started in 1970, when the first Chinese-made satellite was launched. The initial phase was an attempt to overcome the lack of technology following the break with the Soviet Union in 1960. China focused on the manufacture of rockets and military satellites.

Between 1970 and 2000, China successfully launched 50 domestic-made space vehicles, having created the Long March series of carrier rockets on the basis of ICBMs.

But possessing carrier rockets and satellites was not in itself enough to secure China a place in the elite club of space powers.

For that it would have to prove itself capable of all kinds of space activities, from placing multi service satellite systems in low earth-orbits and carrying out manned flights to developing advanced deep space exploration programs.

Nowadays, broad international cooperation and commercial space services are integral to the success of any space program, whether pursued by a single country or a group of countries represented by one space agency.

Until the beginning of the new millennium, China had nothing of the kind. This forced Beijing to seek a tie-up with the U.S. and Russia to take part in the ISS program. The Americans, though, were not particularly eager to broaden the existing partnership, and China was left to focus on a domestic space program.

In October 2003, China's first successful manned flight proved Beijing's significant space capabilities.

The second round of China's struggle for space began. With its ability to conduct every kind of space activity in question, China planned to prove in the space of a few years what had taken other countries decades.

In October 2005, a second manned flight was also successful. Since 2003 China has launched 24 Chang Zheng carrier rockets and 22 domestically developed satellites of various types.

China's space vehicle family currently includes six series, including re-entry earth remote sensing satellites, DFH-4 (Dongfanghong, or East Is Red) communications and broadcasting satellites, FY (FengYun, or Wind and Cloud) weather satellites, and also scientific, experimental and navigation satellites.

A new series of marine monitoring satellites is under development, and a small satellites program is also being accelerated.

China currently uses a domestic-made space navigation system based on 4 Beidou (Compass) geostationary satellites orbiting at 36,000 kilometers from the earth's surface. Beijing has already announced development of a domestic global navigation system.

In October 2007, China launched its first satellite for lunar exploration, the Changye-1, which managed to collect all the necessary information to create a full map of the Moon's surface. A two-man flight, which would include a spacewalk, is already being planned.

China's achievements are impressive. "The China Aerospace and Technology Corporation (CASTC) is aiming at covering 10% of the global commercial satellite market and 15% of commercial space launches by 2015," a statement issued by the corporation in late July says.

In other words, Beijing has proved it is capable of conducting all kinds of space activities independently. China is entering the third phase of space exploration.

Advancing in the commercial sector, the CASTC is also planning to land a robot on the moon by 2015, and launch a research laboratory in low earth orbit, which would be reached by new manned space vehicles.

Space exploration would be impossible without a sufficient earth-based infrastructure. China has announced the establishment of four new space industry centers in Shangxi and Sichuan provinces, in addition to the currently functioning ones in Beijing and Shanghai.

Now the Americans, including NASA chief Michael Griffin, are no longer sure that the Star-Spangled Banner will be the first flag to return to the Moon. In late 2007, in a speech marking the 50 years of NASA in Washington, Michael Griffin said China was capable of landing on the Moon ahead of the U.S.

And he's probably right...

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

Source: RIA Novosti


Related Links
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Rocket For China's Manned Space Mission At Launch Center
Jiuquan, China (XNA) Aug 06, 2008
The Long-March II-F rocket for the launch of China's manned spacecraft Shenzhou VII has arrived at the launch center in northwest China's Gansu Province. The rocket is set to send the Shenzhou VII manned spacecraft into space from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. Three astronauts aboard the spacecraft are expected to make the first space walk by Chinese astronauts, according to ... read more

NASA Awards Contracts For Concepts Of Lunar Surface Systems

NASA Lunar Science Institute Names First International Partner

NASA Tests Moon Imaging Spacecraft

NASA Hosts International Meeting For Lunar Science Discussions

Perchlorate salts: a major find on Mars

Phoenix Mars Team Opens Window On Scientific Process

About Water On Mars, The Origins Of Life And The Future Of Earth

4Frontiers Awarded Grant To Investigate Mars Greenhouse Materials

NASA Awards Space Radiobiology Research Grants

Environmental Tectonics's NASTAR Center Receives Award

Inspire Interns Help Design Next-Gen Space Fleet

Obama Promises A Better NASA

China's Space Ambitions

Rocket For China's Manned Space Mission At Launch Center

China To Release 700 Hours Of Chang'e-1 Data

China Aims For World-Class Space Industry In Seven Years

ISS Crew Inspired By Vision And Dreams Of Jules Verne

Space chiefs ponder ISS transport problem, post-2015 future

Space Station A Test-Bed For Future Space Exploration

Two Russian cosmonauts begin new space walk

Russian Launch Of Satellite On Converted Satan ICBM Postponed

Europe's Ariane rocket must develop or die: ex-CEO

Russia Launching Thai Earth Remote-Sensing Satellite

Russia Puts Off Launch Of Inmarsat Satellite Until August 19

CoRoT Exoplanet Stands Out From The Crowd

COROT's New Find Orbits Sun-Like Star

Chemical Clues Point To Dusty Origin For Earth-Like Planets

Astronomers discover clutch of 'super-Earths'

Satgate Contracts Four Transponders At New SES ASTRA Orbital Position

Argonne Scientists Discover New Class Of Glassy Material

Scientist says feathers are future of Asia construction

Seanodes Computing Solution In The Stars For NASA Astrophysics Group

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement