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Private firms expected to help build space station
by Staff Writers
Beijing (XNA) Apr 30, 2021

File illustration showing debut mission of the Tianzhou-class unmanned cargo spacecraft docking with China's Tiangong II space laboratory.

Commercial enterprises will have opportunities to take part in the construction and operation of the nation's space station, according to a senior space official.

Hao Chun, head of the China Manned Space Agency, told China Daily in an interview earlier this month that his agency, which administers the space station program, will take advantage of private space companies' technologies and capabilities to help State-owned contractors build and maintain the station.

"Actually, we have already started inviting private companies to offer their solutions to us. For instance, we invited bids for new concepts of cargo transportation to our space station and then received proposals from more than 10 private enterprises," Hao said. "Next, we will review those proposals and select and support the good ones."

If the selected companies prove to be competent and qualified, the agency will consider commissioning them to fulfill cargo transportation missions for the station, according to him.

Currently, China has only one type of cargo spaceship-the Tianzhou, which was developed by State-owned space giant China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. Tianzhou 1 performed resupply and refueling tests with the Tiangong II space laboratory in 2017, while Tianzhou 2 is scheduled to be launched in the coming months to dock with the core capsule of the space station.

"The participation of commercial space enterprises will give us greater flexibility and offer us more convenience in terms of the operation and maintenance of the space station, and it will also help us reduce our overall costs," Hao said, also suggesting that private companies should understand the space station program's demands and look into available opportunities to make the best use of their expertise.

The official also said that the rapidly expanding commercial space sector will become a major driving force for China's space industry.

In the wake of the intensifying contest in the global space arena, China has realized that it is necessary to introduce new players to stimulate innovation and competition and to fill in market gaps left by established contractors.

As an important part of his endeavor to strengthen China's space industry, President Xi Jinping has requested that the long sheltered industry open its doors to private enterprises and capitalize on their participation to boost sustainable growth.

Meanwhile, several government departments have published policies and guidelines that encourage private enterprises to take part in space-related businesses.

Due to the government's support and thriving business demands, dozens of domestic private space companies have emerged and obtained some market share in the carrier rocket and satellite industries.

Source: Xinhua News Agency

Related Links
China Manned Space Agency
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