China eyes biology experiments in space station

By Deng Xiaoci Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/23 12:37:42 Last Updated: 2020/5/23 12:40:06

Mars probe taking on unprecedented path shows skills, confidence: political advisor


File photo of a full-size model of the core module of China's space station Tianhe. (Xinhua/Liang Xu)

China's new space station, expected to be operational in 2022, will likely be used as a facility for large-scale biological experiments which will help the country safeguard its biosecurity, according to Zhao Xiaojin, Party chief of the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST).

Zhao, also a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China's top advisory body, made the statement on the sidelines of the ongoing national two sessions on Saturday. 

Zhao told the Global Times that he hoped to contribute to the national goals of social and economic development and winning the battle against COVID-19. 

The trial version of the country's new-generation manned spaceship, which was developed by CAST, successfully completed its maiden flight and returned safely earlier this month, fully verifying the function of the key technology, Zhao noted. "The era of China's space station construction has officially been ushered in," he said.

Following the successful maiden flight of the Long March-5B large rocket on May 5 and the testing of China's new-generation manned spaceship, more details of China's space station have been unveiled.

Construction of the space station is set to be completed in 2022. It will operate in low-Earth orbit at an altitude of 340-450 kilometers for more than 10 years, supporting large-scale scientific, technological and application experiments.

China is also expected to conduct its first Mars probe mission, codenamed Wentian-1, later this year, and the Chang'e-5 lunar probe, a moon sampling return mission, is also scheduled for this year.

The completion of the Mars probe mission will narrow the gap between China and the US, Russia and Europe in space exploration, and mark China as a genuine space power, according to the political advisor.

According to China's space authorities, the country's third-generation spacecraft tracking ship the Yuanwang-6 has set sail for the Pacific where it will conduct monitoring and control missions.

The ship's captain Yang Bianjiao said that the journey is intended to test the vessel's updated equipment and strengthened spacecraft tracking capabilities, which will lay the foundation for follow-up missions, including the Mars probe and the Chang'e-5 lunar probe.

Tianwen-1, China's first Mars probe mission, aims to orbit, land and rove in one go, according to the China National Space Administration.

No country has completed such an undertaking in its exploration of the Red Planet, meaning the Chinese mission faces unprecedented challenges, Zhao said.

China is exploring a new path for the Mars probe rather than repeating what others have already done, which will showcase China's aerospace technology development and great confidence, he said. 

China also plans to send out two more advanced Earth observation satellites from the Gaofen satellite family in 2020, and will conduct a Mars sample return mission by around 2030, as well as a Jovian System probe mission, Zhao said. 


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