CASC helps na­tion reach for the stars

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - By ZHAO LEI zhaolei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Space con­trac­tor makes a mark in the global arena as poli­cies boost devel­op­ment

The suc­cess of China Aero-space SSc­ciei­en­nc­ceeanad­ndTeTchec­n­hon­lo­gly­oC­goyr­pCo(rCpA(CSCA)SCi)ninththee glob­all space arena dur­ing the pastt four decades is rich tes­ti­mony to thtehseucc­seusc­scoef­sCs hionfa’sCre­hfion­ram’s arenf­dorompeanidnogp-uep­nipnogl-iucpy psoin­licey lsain­tec1e9l7a8t.e 1978.

The BeBieji­in­j­gin-hge-ahd­e­qau­dar­qtuer­aerd-, tSe­traetde,-oSw­tante-dow­nes­d­pasc­peace and de­fense giant now has morre than 170,000 em­ploy­ees,,eightt large acad­e­mies and a dozen listed com­cop­man­piaens.iIetsw. asIr­tan­wkeads 3ra4n3kred­din34t3hredFion­rt­tuh­neeFGor­lotub­nael 5G0­lo0blaislt5in­0020li1s8t,im­na2k0in­18g,imt tahke­fionugrit­thtl­haergfeo­sut ratehrol­saprgaceesteaneterro-prise in the world by rev­enue af­ter Boe­ing, Air­bus and Lock­heed Martin.

The suc­cess of the com­pany is also tes­ta­ment to China’s de­ci­sion in 1978 to embark on re­form and open­ing-up. In the 11 years from the start of the re­form and open­ing-up to the end of 1989, China con­ducted 16 space mis­sions and all of them were satel­lite launches. Dur­ing the 1990s, 39 car­rier rock­ets were launched, and the last of them fer­ried the first pro­to­type of the Shen­zhou space­craft into space, open­ing China’s manned space age.

From 2000 to Novem­ber 2012, a to­tal of 111 rock­ets sent hun­dreds of satel­lites, four manned space­craft with eight Chi­nese as­tro­nauts as well as one space lab­o­ra­tory into space.

Since then, 124 space launches have been car­ried out dur­ing the past six years, ev­i­dence of China’s re­lent­less ef­forts to be­come a space power.

Al­most all of the na­tion’s space mis­sions were ful­filled by the China Academy of Launch Ve­hi­cle Tech­nol­ogy, China Academy of Space Tech­nol­ogy and Shang­hai Academy of Space­flight Tech­nol­ogy, all units of CASC.

Long-held as­pi­ra­tions

The Chi­nese peo­ple had long wished to re­al­ize their dream of “fly­ing above the skies”. Chi­nese sci­en­tists drafted a plan in the 1970s to de­velop a manned space pro­gram. How­ever, they were un­able to make it hap­pen be­cause of the na­tion’s weak ca­pa­bil­i­ties in space tech­nol­ogy and man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tor back then.

In 1986, a group of top Chi­nese sci­en­tists sug­gested that the gov­ern­ment should con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity of manned space flights and sub­mit­ted a roadmap, which was ap­proved by the Party lead­er­ship in 1992.

Thanks to CASC and its pre­de­ces­sor, China Aero­space Corp, the coun­try moved fast to­ward its goals in manned space pro­grams.

In Oc­to­ber 2003, China car­ried out its first manned space mis­sion, send­ing Yang Li­wei to a 21-hour jour­ney around the Earth in the Shen­zhou V space­craft.

Till date, six manned space flights have been con­ducted, to­tal­ing 68 days and cir­cling the Earth 1,089 times. Chi­nese as­tro­nauts trav­eled more than 46 mil­lion kilo­me­ters in the space and ex­e­cuted over 100 sci­en­tific ex­per­i­ments dur­ing these mis­sions. They have ful­filled ex­trave­hic­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties, sev­eral mul­ti­ple-day mis­sions in­side the Tian­gong-1 and 2 space labs, as well as a 40-minute space lec­ture watched by more than 60 mil­lion Chi­nese stu­dents from around 80,000 schools.

Chi­nese sci­en­tists have also launched a cargo space­ship to con­duct sev­eral dock­ing and in-or­bit re­fu­el­ing op­er­a­tions with Tian­gong-2, ver­i­fy­ing tech­nolo­gies and equip­ment de­signed for space sta­tion.

These ac­com­plish­ments have be­come a source of na­tional pride and peo­ple’s con­fi­dence in the na­tion’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

To meet the needs from manned space pro­grams, en­gi­neers at China Academy of Launch Ve­hi­cle Tech­nol­ogy de­signed and built mul­ti­ple new rocket mod­els in­clud­ing the Long March 5 and Long March 7.

As the strongest and most tech­no­log­i­cally so­phis­ti­cated rocket ever made by China, Long March 5 has a liftoff weight of 869 met­ric tons, a max­i­mum pay­load of 25 tons to a low-Earth or­bit, or 14 tons to a geosyn­chronous trans­fer or­bit. The gi­gan­tic ve­hi­cle is tasked with trans­port­ing parts of China’s fu­ture manned space sta­tion and ful­fill­ing Mars ex­plo­rations.

In ad­di­tion to manned space flights, CASC has also helped the coun­try re­al­ize an­other tra­di­tional dream — to ex­plore the moon, a dis­tant sil­ver sphere deemed by Chi­nese myths as some god­desses’ palace.

The com­pany started send­ing ro­botic probes to the moon in 2007 and car­ried out sev­eral lu­nar mis­sions since then. It landed the Chang’e 3 probe, which car­ried the first Chi­nese lu­nar rover, on the moon in De­cem­ber 2013. The Chang’e 3 mis­sion marked the first soft-land­ing — op­po­site to hard im­pact — by a man­made space­craft on the moon in nearly four decades.

The com­pany launched a re­lay satel­lite into space in May as the first step in the Chang’e 4 lu­nar mis­sion, which will ex­plore the far side of the moon and is sched­uled to be made be­fore the end of this year.

Com­pass in heavens

Along with the ex­plo­ration and sci­en­tific en­deav­ors, CASC has been work­ing with Chi­nese space au­thor­i­ties to set up a vast nav­i­ga­tion and po­si­tion­ing satel­lite net­work and a high­def­i­ni­tion Earth ob­ser­va­tion satel­lite sys­tem to fa­cil­i­tate pub­lic and eco­nomic sec­tors.

The Bei­dou net­work, mainly con­structed by CASC, is one of the four space-based nav­i­ga­tion net­works along with the United States’ GPS, Rus­sia’s GLONASS and Euro­pean Union’s Galileo.

Since 2000, when the first Bei­dou satel­lite was placed in the space, 42 satel­lites have been launched for the sys­tem and sev­eral in them have been re­tired. Bei­dou be­gan pro­vid­ing po­si­tion­ing, nav­i­ga­tion, tim­ing and mes­sage ser­vices to civil­ian users in China and parts of the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion in De­cem­ber 2012.

China has planned to place 18 third-gen­er­a­tion Bei­dou satel­lites into space be­fore year’s end.

Ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment plans, the net­work will be made up of 35 satel­lites by 2020.

REN DONG / CHINA NEWS SER­VICE

Vis­i­tors queue up to try out sim­u­lated games in front of a model of Tian­gong-2 space­craft at an avi­a­tion ex­hi­bi­tion in Kun­ming, cap­i­tal of Yun­nan province.

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