The 2017 Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX) opens in Beijing on June 6, 2017. [Photo: cnr.cn]
China has announced some of its future space exploration programs at the ongoing 2017 Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX).
The GLEX 2017 opened Tuesday in Beijing, revisiting China for the first time in 7 years.
China's first astronaut Yang Liwei said the country will carry out at least 4 manned spaceflight missions over the next 5 years to build a space station, which is set to be completed by around 2022.
The station's first core module will be launched in 2019, followed by launches of 2 experiment modules.
It will enable astronauts to stay in space for 3 months to half a year, and the selection of new astronauts will begin this year.
Yang also announced that China is making preliminary preparations for a manned lunar landing mission, which consists of a manned spaceship, a propulsion vehicle and a lunar lander.
Space theorists, scientists and engineers from both China and abroad attend the 2017 Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX) in Beijing on June 6, 2017. [Photo: cnr.cn]
Meantime, China also released information about another 2 lunar exploration projects, namely the Chang'e-4 and Chang'e-5.
The Chang'e-4 probe is set to be the world's first to land on the dark side of the moon to carry out research, and its flight mission is scheduled for next year.
Liu Jizhong, director of Lunar Exploration and Space Engineering Center of the Chinese Society of Astronautics, said progress has been made in international space cooperation related to the mission.
"China sent out invitations with intent to enhance international cooperation as soon as it started its studies on the Chang'e-4 project and received many responses from other countries. Over a dozen countries have sent us more than 20 cooperation proposals. So far, it has been confirmed that the Chang'e-4 project will include projects from the Netherlands, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Sweden," said Liu.
China plans to launch its Chang'e-5 mission at the end of November 2017, which will see an unmanned probe land on the moon, collect samples, and return to earth - a first for the Chinese space program.
Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao (2nd from Right) attends the 2017 Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX) in Beijing on June 6, 2017. [Photo: Xinhua/Zhang Ling]
At the conference, China also vowed to further enhance international aerospace cooperation by providing more opportunities for other countries.
Yang Baohua, deputy general manager of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, said China is focusing not only on the cooperative projects, but also the values and capabilities on conducting research in related aerospace areas.
"For example, we cooperated with France in the China-France Oceanography Satellite and with Italy in the electromagnetic monitoring satellite for earthquakes. All those programs have profound significance in science and applications. Specially, we will launch more cooperation with countries along the Belt and Road routes with an aim to jointly explore the universe and benefit the humans," said Yang.
Jan Woerner, Director General of the European Space Agency, also expressed willingness to achieve more international cooperation.
"As the European Space Agency, we have already some good cooperation with China, especially in science. So we have some experiments in microgravity, we are looking forward to a mission which is called SMILE (Solar wind Magnetosphere Ionosphere Link Explorer), which is investigating the magnetosphere of the Earth and influence of solar flares. So there are a lot of opportunities for cooperation," said Woerner.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has also sent a letter of congratulations to the event, hoping that the conference will promote the development of space science and technology and help boost international exchanges and cooperation.
The 3-day GLEX 2017 will see nearly a 1000 space theorists, scientists and engineers discussing the challenges of space exploration as well as solutions and future development plans.