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China Seeks To Enhance Soft Power Through Space Science Cooperation On Planned Space Station

China’s Tiangong Space Station. Image courtesy of Xinhua.

China is seeking to enhance its soft power and global scientific reputation by inviting international participation and cooperation in space science experiments on its planned space station.

Proposals and projects can be submitted online and peer-reviewed. Submitted projects will go through to the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA). The offer is open to the international community.

“We are looking forward to experiments to better sustain space exploration. We also expect China’s space station to be an in-space incubator of new technologies that can improve people’s lives,” said Zhang Hongtai, president of the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST).

The Committee on Science and Technology Experiments of the Chinese Space Station was established recently under CAST.

“China is further opening up, and space exploration is a shared challenge for China and other countries,” said Bao Weimin, chairman of the newly established committee and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). “We hope to solicit and evaluate experiments with common international practices and select the most promising and innovative projects. The research data will be shared by the international community,”.

CAST might also provide opportunities to conduct some international cooperation experiments on other spacecraft or satellites, Hongtai added.

The new committee is made up of 14 Chinese scientists, and scientists from other countries are welcome to participate, Weimin said.

“We welcome scientists around the globe to submit projects or to become peer-review experts. We hope to have in-depth cooperation,” said Chen Hong, head of the Qian Xuesen Laboratory of Space Technology, which focuses on the development of new space technologies. The committee is based in this laboratory.

“We’d like to provide engineering consultation and support for the international cooperation projects to ensure the implementation of cutting-edge experiments on the space station,” said Long Jiang, head of the Institute of Manned Space System Engineering, the main manufacturer of China’s space station.

Another special programme, the Youth Program of Scientific Education Experiment on the Chinese Space Station, was launched at the beginning of 2018 to encourage and foster imagination and creativity in young people. This programme has collected nearly 200 youth education experiments nationwide and selected a preliminary list of 30 projects. The programme is aimed primarily at  primary and middle school students. “We also welcome young students from around the world to participate,” said Yao Wei, a researcher at the Qian Xuesen Laboratory.


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