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China's Space Activities in 2006

Date:2006-10-12        size:L  M  S

The Information Office of China's State Council on Thursday issued a white paper titled "China's Space Activities in 2006". The following is the full text of the document:

China's Space Activities in 2006

Information Office of the State Council of the People's Republic of China

October 2006, Beijing


I. Aims and Principles of Development
II. Progress Made in the Past Five Years
III. Development Targets and Major Tasks for the Next Five Years
IV. Development Policies and Measures
V. International Exchanges and Cooperation


Space activities around the world have been flourishing in the first few years of the 21st century. Leading countries in the area of spaceflight have formulated or readjusted their development strategies, plans and goals in this sphere. The role of space activities in a country's overall development strategy is becoming increasingly salient, and their influence on human civilization and social progress is increasing.

It has been 50 splendid years since China embarked on the road to develop its space industry, starting in 1956. For half a century, China has worked independently in this field. It has made eye-catching achievements, and ranks among the world's most advanced countries in some important fields of space technology. China is unflinching in taking the road of peaceful development, and always maintains that outer space is the common wealth of mankind. While supporting all activities that utilize outer space for peaceful purposes, China actively explores and uses outer space and continuously makes new contributions to the development of man's space programs.

China has set the strategic goal of building itself into a well-off society in an all-round way, ranking it among the countries with the best innovative capabilities in the first 20 years of the 21st century. The development of the space industry in China now faces new opportunities and higher requirements. In the new stage of development, China will adhere to the scientific outlook on development as guidance, center its work on the national strategic goals, strengthen its innovative capabilities and do its best to make the country's space industry develop faster and better.

China's space industry has made great progress since the Chinese government issued the white paper China's Space Activities in 2000. In order to give people around the world a better understanding of the development of China's space industry over the past five years and its plans for the near future, we hereby offer an expanded introduction to some related issues.

I. Aims and Principles of Development

The aims of China's space activities are: to explore outer space, and enhance understanding of the Earth and the cosmos; to utilize outer space for peaceful purposes, promote human civilization and social progress, and benefit the whole of mankind; to meet the demands of economic construction, scientific and technological development, national security and social progress; and to raise the scientific quality of the Chinese people, protect China's national interests and rights, and build up the comprehensive national strength.

When developing the space industry, China will follow the principles guiding the development of the country's scientific and technological programs, namely, making innovations independently, making leapfrogging development in key areas, shoring up the economy and leading future trends. In the new development stage, the principles of development for China's space industry are as follows:

-- Maintaining and serving the country's overall development strategy, and meeting the needs of the state and reflecting its will. China considers the development of its space industry as a strategic way to enhance its economic, scientific, technological and national defense strength, as well as a cohesive force for the unity of the Chinese people, in order to rejuvenate China. Since the space industry is an important part of the national overall development strategy, China will maintain long-term, stable development in this field.

-- Upholding independence and self-reliance policy, making innovations independently and realizing leapfrogging development. China relied completely on itself when it developed its space industry from scratch, and has made constant progress through making independent innovations. Therefore, increasing the capability for independent innovation is a strategic basis for developing the space industry. In light of the country's actual situation and needs, China will focus on certain areas while ignoring less-important ones. It will choose some limited targets, concentrate its strength on making key breakthroughs and realize leapfrogging development.

-- Maintaining comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable development, and bringing into full play the functions of space science and technology in promoting and sustaining the country's science and technology sector, as well as economic and social development. China will strengthen strategic planning, making overall plans for the development of space technology, space application and space science. It will encourage progress in space science and technology to promote the development of high technology and industry, as well as the trans-formation and upgrading of traditional industries. Meanwhile, it will protect the space environment, and develop and utilize space resources in a rational manner.

-- Adhering to the policy of opening up to the outside world, and actively engaging in international space exchanges and cooperation. China supports all activities that utilize outer space for peaceful purposes. It will strengthen exchanges and cooperation in this field with other countries on the basis of the principles of equality, mutual benefit, peaceful utilization of outer space and common development. 

II. Progress Made in the Past Five Years

From 2001 to 2005, China's space industry has developed rapidly, making many achievements. A group of research and development and testing bases of the advanced world level has been built, and the system of research, design, production and testing has been further improved, markedly enhancing the country's basic capabilities in space science and technology. With breakthroughs in important key technologies, the overall level of China's space technology has been improved remarkably. Having made a historic breakthrough in manned spaceflight, China has embarked on a comprehensive lunar exploration project. Space application systems have taken shape, the range of application has been further expanded, application benefits have been noticeably enhanced, and important achievements have been made in space scientific experiments and research in this regard.

Space Technology

1. Man-made satellites. Over the past five years, China has independently developed and launched 22 different types of man-made satellites, upgrading its overall level in this field markedly. On the basis of the four satellite series initially developed, China has developed two more satellite series, to bring the total to six -- the recoverable remote-sensing satellites, "DFH" (Dongfanghong, or The East is Red) telecommunications and broadcasting satellites, "FY" (Fengyun, or Wind and Cloud) meteorological satellites, "SJ" (Shijian, or Practice) scientific research and technological experiment satellites, "ZY" (Ziyuan, or Resources) Earth resource satellites, and "Beidou" (Plough) navigation and positioning satellites. In addition, the oceanic satellite series will come into being soon. China has speeded up the implementation of the plan to establish "a constellation of small satellites for environment and disaster monitoring and forecasting." Research and development of the payload of some new, high-performance satellites have been successful, and many application satellites have begun regular operation. The Fengyun Iand Fengyun II meteorological satellites have been listed by the World Meteorological Organization in the international satellite series for meteorological services. Important breakthroughs have been made in key technologies related to the common platform for big geostationary orbit satellites. Periodical achievements have been made in the research and development of large-capacity telecommunications and broadcasting satellites. Substantial progress has been made in the research and development, and application of small satellites.

2. Launching vehicles. Over the past five years, "Long March" rockets independently developed by China have made 24 consecutive successful flights, and their major technological functions and reliability have been notably upgraded. From October 1996 to the end of 2005, "Long March" rockets made 46 consecutive successful flights. Important breakthroughs have been made in key technologies of the new-generation launching vehicles. Research and development of the 120-ton thrust liquid-oxygen/kerosene engine and the 50-ton thrust hydrogen-oxygen engine are proceeding smoothly.

3. Launching sites. The construction of three launching sites at Jiuquan, Xichang and Taiyuan, has made new progress, and their comprehensive test and launch capabilities have been enhanced. Various launching vehicles, man-made satellites, unmanned experimental spacecraft and manned spacecraft have been successfully launched from the three launching sites many times.

4. Telemetry, tracking and command (TT&C). The overall performance of the country's TT&C network has been improved and expanded. It has provided TT&C support to man-made satellites traveling in different orbits, and to unmanned experimental spacecraft and manned spacecraft during launch, operation in orbit, return and landing.

5. Manned spaceflight. On November 20 and 21, 1999, China launched and retrieved the first "Shenzhou" unmanned experimental spacecraft. It then launched three more "Shenzhou" unmanned experimental spacecrafts not long afterwards. On October 15 and 16,2003, it launched and retrieved the "Shenzhou V" manned spacecraft, China's first of its kind. Having mastered the basic technologies for manned spacecraft, China became the third country in the world to develop manned spaceflight independently. From October 12 to 17,2005, the "Shenzhou VI" manned spacecraft completed a five-day flight with two astronauts on board. This was the first time for China to have men engage in experiments in space, another major achievement in the sphere of manned spaceflight.

6. Deep-space exploration. Advance studies and engineering work of the lunar-orbiting project has been conducted, making important progress.

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