“Big 3” of China’s aerospace ready to serve the globe

A 1:1 model of the core module Tianhe of the China Space Station is exhibited at the 12th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (Airshow China) in Zhuhai, south China’s Guangdong Province, Nov. 7, 2018. (Photo by People’s Daily Online)

After over 70 years of continuous efforts, especially since the implementation of the reform and opening up policy in 1978, a batch of major equipment have been constructed or are being constructed in China.

They not only demonstrate China’s remarkable progress, but also carry an important mission to enhance China-foreign sci-tech cooperation and exchanges.

Among them, the “big 3” of China’s aerospace technology, namely the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST), the Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) and China Space Station (CSS) are pioneering China’s sci-tech cooperation and exchanges with the rest of the world.

The FAST, located in Pingtang County, southwest China’s Guizhou Province, is the world’s largest single-dish radio telescope. Upon completion in September 2016, the telescope was put into a pilot run. In January the last year, the project went through acceptance inspection and began formal operations, which marked a major breakthrough made by China in cutting-edge astronomy.

The telescope, independently developed by China, has a comprehensive performance that is 10 times better than that of the Arecibo Observatory, a 305-meter vast telescope in Puerto Rico, and it can receive electromagnetic signals 10 billion light years away. As of the end of March, the FAST had identified over 300 pulsars.

The National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (NAOC), which initiated the FAST project, recently announced that the gigantic telescope would be open to the world and accept observation applications from scientists around the world since March 31.

All foreign applications will be evaluated in a unified manner. The results will be announced on July 20 and observations will begin in August.

This indicated a higher level of opening up of the FAST and demonstrated China’s willingness to cooperate with the international science community.

The Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in south China’s island province of Hainan experienced a busy April. Aerospace experts from across the country gathered there to build the CSS.

China is scheduled to launch three modules, four cargo spacecraft, and four manned spacecraft for its space station construction in 2021 and 2022.

As early as May 2018, China and the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space launched the “United Nations/China Cooperation on the Utilization of the China Space Station,” during which the two parties announced cooperation details of using the Chinese infrastructure.

As a result, nine international scientific experiments of 17 countries, including Switzerland, Poland, Germany, Italy, Norway, Kenya and Japan, would be included in the CSS, covering multiple disciplines such as space astronomy, geoscience, space life-science and biotechnology. This marked China’s sincerity and concrete action in promoting international sci-tech cooperation with the CSS as a platform.

On June 23, 2020, as the 55th satellite of the BeiDou satellite family, or the last of the BDS-3, the third generation of the BDS, was launched, China completed the constellation deployment of the BDS-3 half a year ahead of schedule, and started global service of the navigation system.

The construction of navigation system not only needs a strong power in space science, but also occupies spatial frequency and orbit resources, which calls for a series of efforts in international coordination.

In 2013, China built its very first ground monitoring station for the BDS in Pakistan, marking the start of the construction of BDS overseas stations.

As one of the four major satellite navigation systems recognized by the UN, BDS products have been exported to over 120 countries and regions, offering services for more than 100 million users. Besides, China is also further enhancing cooperation on compatibility and interoperability between the BDS and its counterparts from the U.S., Russia and the EU.

The BDS will always stay committed to its global services and keep benefiting the mankind.

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