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From rice to quantum gas: China's targets pioneering space research
China is not only prioritizing its national projects but is also looking to collaborate internationally. The CMSA has announced that experiments from the first batch of international payloads, selected in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), will soon be conducted on the Tiangong space station. In addition, ten space application projects are in progress in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA).
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From rice to quantum gas: China's targets pioneering space research
by Simon Mansfield
Sydney, Australia (SPX) Aug 21, 2023

China's orbiting Tiangong space station is now fully operational and has embarked on a mission that aims to achieve groundbreaking scientific discoveries, according to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA). This marks a significant step forward as the station enters an application and development phase that is anticipated to last for over a decade.

The spokesperson for CMSA, Lin Xiqiang, revealed on Friday that the completion of the station in 2022 has propelled it into a new phase, during which it is expected to uncover scientific insights on cosmology, dark matter, dark energy, and the mysteries of galaxies, among other topics. Lin's list of research topics reflects the vast potential of the space station, including studying the Milky Way, star evolution, and the enigmatic world of exoplanets.

One of the space station's key experiments includes the ultra-cold atomic physics platform, which will facilitate the creation of quantum gas close to absolute zero - a feat unattainable on Earth. Moreover, the in-orbit research concerning stem cells, synthetic biology manufacturing, organ chips, and protein crystallization could revolutionize the fields of regenerative and precision medicine, as well as drug discovery.

Lin mentioned that instruments focusing on mammal breeding and brain science will be integrated into the space station in the near future.

As of now, 110 in-orbit science research and application projects are already underway, with a vast amount of data being collected and analyzed. Nearly 100 TB of original experimental data has been amassed, with approximately 300 experimental samples being returned to Earth, stated Lin Xiqiang.

The space station has successfully completed the world's first life-cycle growth experiment of rice, which could lead to the breeding of new rice varieties. Moreover, the creation of a new alloy material in space indicates potential applications in various industries such as aerospace and nuclear power.

Li Yinghui, deputy chief designer of the astronaut system of China's manned space program, pointed out that the space medical experiments conducted have yielded novel results. This includes research on an artificial vascular-tissue chip and an exploration of the influence of weightlessness on intracellular calcium signals.

The space station's achievements are not solely academic; they have tangible benefits for life on Earth. Over 4,000 items derived from the Chinese manned space program have found practical applications in areas like agriculture, medicine, and public services. An impressive output of over 2.6 billion kilograms of grain has been attributed to more than 3,000 space breeding experiments.

China is not only prioritizing its national projects but is also looking to collaborate internationally. The CMSA has announced that experiments from the first batch of international payloads, selected in cooperation with the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), will soon be conducted on the Tiangong space station. In addition, ten space application projects are in progress in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA).

The spirit of collaboration extends to astronaut training, with preparations for foreign astronaut training advancing steadily. Lin Xiqiang welcomed international astronauts to conduct experiments on the Chinese space station and emphasized that China has established cooperation agreements with several space agencies, including those of Russia, France, Germany, Italy, and Pakistan.

In summary, with the Tiangong space station's operational status and its clear scientific objectives, China is poised to contribute significantly to the field of space science and exploration in the coming years.

Related Links
China Manned Space Agency
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from SinoDaily.com

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