China's space industry to see accelerated expansion over next 10 years
BEIJING, Nov. 4 (Xinhua) -- China's space industry will develop quickly over the next 10 years as the country pushes ahead with its space programs after its first space docking on Thursday.
Lab modules, a space station and 10 to 20 spaceships will be launched into space over the next 10 years, the Shanghai Securities News said Friday, but did not reveal its source.
The country will spend around 300 billion yuan (47.47 billion U.S. dollars) in manufacturing those craft, according to the newspaper.
There are 20 or so space voyages being planned in China, the newspaper reported, citing Wu Ping, spokeswoman of China's manned space program. The spaceflights will shore up demand for spacecraft manufacturing and launch services.
Space infrastructure has been included as one of China's strategic new industries which the government plans to foster over the next five years.
China started its three-stage manned space program in 1992.
In the first stage the country sent the astronaut, Yang Liwei, into space as part of the Shenzhou-5 mission in 2003. It was the first time for China to send a person into space.
Also as part of the initial stage, two astronauts conducted extravehicular activities during the Shenzhou-7 mission in 2008.
Now during the second stage China is focusing on space docking.
It achieved its first space docking in wee hours of Thursday when Tiangong-1 and Shenzhou-8 connected in space.
The next significant events will be the launching of Shenzhou-9 and -10, and one of the missions will be manned.
China will complete the second stage after it establishes its own space lab around 2016, Wu said.
In the third stage, China plans to develop and launch multiple space modules, with a goal of assembling a 60-tonne manned space station in 2020.
"The successful docking means China will enter a phase of massive production of spacecraft. The space economy is about to take off," according to Dongxing Securities.
Chinese Space Program
The succesful launching of the Shenzhou V, the Divine Vessel, on 15 October 2003, with taikonaut Yang Liwei on board, marked a giant leap forward in the Chinese space program that saw its origins in the 1960s. With this result, China joined the club of space-travelling nations that previously had been limited to the United States and the Soviet Union/Russian Federation. A previous Chinese launching , in 1970, had already brought a satellite into orbit that endlessly broadcast Dongfang hong (东方红, The East is Red), not the national anthem, but probably one of the best known Chinese tunes, eulogizing Mao Zedong. The success of this mission was solely ascribed to the genius of Mao Zedong Thought, which had guided the scientists and workers. In reality, Qian Xuesen (1911-2009), a rocket engineer formerly attached to the Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California, U.S., who had been expelled in the 1950s for suspected Communist sympathies, designed China's first missiles, earning him the accolade of being the father of the space program.
In the early 1970s, the Chinese space program was brought to a halt as a result of the political turmoil of the Cultural Revolution. After Deng Xiaoping returned to power in the later 1970s, the program was revived in the 1980s. Clearly, the military industrial complex also benefitted greatly from this development, thus enabling the People's Liberation Army to demonstrate how well it responded to the political demands to modernize. Space also appealed to the popular imagination, as can be seen from the relatively abundant use of space-related imagery in posters published in the 1980s and 1990s.
Under Jiang Zemin, however, the program, now named the 921 project, really took off in the 1990s. Successes in space exploration are very much seen as results of the CCP's support for advanced scientific projects that is part and parcel of his theory, the "Three Represents". The Party has appropriated the space mission rather as another justification for its continued rule, and attempts to use it even further to fan patriotism. In this patriotic discourse, space activities are another indication that demonstrate that China has shaken off the humiliation it has suffered in the past at the hands of the Western imperialist powers and is becoming a nation once more to be reckoned with.
Moreover, space exploration and scientific research in general are part of the Party strategy to combat specific religious behavior that it sees and terms as superstition. Even in materials aimed at Falun Gong adherents, space imagery has been used in an attempt to bring them back into the fold.