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China's Space Dream on Track

Source: Science and Technology Daily | 2023-01-04 17:12:52 | Author: Gong Qian

Edited by Gong Qian

China's space exploration history and significant achievements in space technology have never made such a national and global impact as in 2022.

Among the achievements, China became the third country to discover new moon mineral in lunar samples, while Zhurong rover found evidence of water on Mars. The team behind Tianwen 1 Mars mission received the world's highest aerospace award from the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). The IAF said the mission offered an innovative option for successful Mars exploration and contributed to the advancement of deep space exploration technology.

Additionally, the Shenzhou-13 spacecraft took just eight hours to return to Earth. Two laboratory modules Wentian and Mengtian were sent to dock with the Tianhe core module. Meanwhile, the crew of Shenzhou-14 and Shenzhou-15 met at the Tiangong, where six taikonauts remained in orbit at the same time.

With the fruition of China's dream to build its first T-shaped Tiangong space station, the world is highly appreciative of China's efforts and achievements.

Building a space station is a massive undertaking and it has opened a new scientific arena for Chinese researchers, Paulo de Souza who develops space technologies at Griffith University in Australia told Nature, adding that, "It's outstanding."

China's space station is an achievement that solidifies the country's position alongside the U.S. and Russia as one of the world's top three space powers, Scott Shackelford and Eytan Tepper said in Fortune magazine. They are scholars of space law and space policy at leading Indiana University Ostrom Workshop's Space Governance Program.

They said, unlike the collaborative International Space Station, Tiangong is entirely built and run by China. The successful opening of the station is the beginning of some exciting science.

The ability to create and support such a fixture in orbit is often a reflection of a nation's total global power and influence, Popular Science reports.

Reviewing how China planned and executed its space program in the past 30 years, The New York Times said China has made big strides in space and its human spaceflight achievements, combined with recent space probes to the moon and Mars show that China is running a steady space marathon rather than competing in a head-to-head space race with the U.S.

"I think it's entirely possible [China] could catch up and surpass us, absolutely," said Nina Armagno, staff director of U.S. Space Force, at a conference in November of 2022. "The progress they've made has been stunning, stunningly fast," said Armagno.

Previously, U.S. General David Thompson, vice head of space operations for U.S. Space Force also told CNN that China is building, fielding and updating its space capabilities at a speed twice that of the U.S., which means it will soon surpass the U.S.

Some people mistakenly thought that China is launching a space race against the U.S. But Tiangong will not compete with the International Space Station, and China won't compete with the U.S. China has consistenly said that it is willing to work with other countries to jointly explore the mysteries of the universe, and make peaceful use of outer space.

Tiangong is open to all UN member states. Currently, China is conducting cooperation with other countries including Kenya, Russia, Mexico, Japan and Peru. More international researchers will also have access to do experiments on Tiangong.

What Zhou Jianping, chief designer of China Manned Space Program, said to The New York Times may explain why China has adhered to pursuing its space dream.

"Landing on the moon, landing on Mars, are very significant progress in the development of human civilization," Zhou said. "We may understand and realize its further value step by step. But its role in the development of our human civilization is huge, so it is worth our efforts - it's worth fighting for," said Zhou.

Editor: 汤哲枭

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