China issues white paper on space activities

China's Space Activities in 2016 Photo: The Paper

China on Tuesday issued a white paper on its space activities in 2016 and major tasks for the next five years.

Issued by the State Council Information Office, the white paper, titled "China's Space Activities in 2016," said that China always adheres to the principle of exploration and utilization of outer space for peaceful purposes.

The Chinese government takes the space industry as an important part of the nation's overall development strategy, and China has made great achievements since its space industry was established in 1956, it said.

Since 2011, China has seen smooth implementation of major projects, including manned spaceflight, lunar exploration, the BeiDou Navigation System and high-resolution earth observation system, it said.

According to the white paper, in the next five years, China will continue to enhance the basic capacities of its space industry, and strengthen research into key and cutting-edge technologies.

1st soft landing on moon's far side

According to the white paper, China will launch the Chang'e-4 lunar probe around 2018 to achieve mankind's first soft landing on the far side of the moon. The Chang'e-4 lunar probe will "conduct in situ and roving detection and relay communications at earth-moon L2 point," it said.

It plans to fulfill the three strategic steps of "orbiting, landing and returning" for the lunar exploration project by launching the Chang'e-5 lunar probe by the end of 2017 and realizing regional soft landing, sampling and return, according to the white paper.

Through the lunar exploration project, topographic and geological surveys will be implemented and laboratory research conducted on lunar samples, it said.

"Geological survey and research as well as low-frequency radio astronomy observation and research will be carried out targeting the landing area on the far side of the moon for a better understanding of the formation and evolution of the moon," it added.

Global satellite navigation service

China also plans to form a BeiDou network consisting of 35 satellites for global navigation services by 2020, according to the white paper.

The country plans to start providing basic services to countries along the Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-century Maritime Silk Road in 2018, and will continuously enhance the service capacities of the BeiDou-2 in the next five years, the white paper noted.

It aims to provide all clients with more accurate and more reliable services through advancing the ground-based and satellite-based augmentation systems, it said.

Private investment is welcome

Private investors, including those from outside the country, are welcome for commercial rocket development, satellite research, manufacturing and for applying aerospace technologies to public welfare, according to Wu Yanhua, vice minister of China National Space Administration, at a press briefing in Beijing on Tuesday. Wu said China intends to be among the world’s top three aerospace powers by 2030.

“After six decades of development, government investment alone is not enough to let China’s aerospace program to advance technological progress and benefit the economy and society,” said Wu adding that there are now fewer restrictions for non-state investors, including foreign capital, to invest in China’s aerospace research, manufacturing and services.

Improve space debris database

China will also improve the standardization system for space debris, near-earth objects and space climate in the next five years, according to the white paper.

It will enhance the space debris basic database and data-sharing model, and advance the development of space debris monitoring facilities, the early warning and emergency response platform and the online service system, through reinforcing integrated utilization of resources, it said.

Efforts will be made to improve the space environment monitoring system and to build a disaster early warning and prediction platform to raise the preventative capability.

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