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China and the EU on the way to expand cooperation in outer space

People visit the booth of the Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation during the 69th International Astronautical Congress in Bremen, Germany, on October 1, 2018. (Xinhua / Lien Zhen)

The Chinese lunar probe Chang & # 39; e-4 was launched earlier this month, and is expected to make the world's first soft landing on the far side of the moon.

During the mission, China cooperated with four other countries, three of which are from Europe, which is the epitome of the growing space cooperation between China and the European Union (EU) in recent years.


The mission of Chang & # 39; e-4 will be a key step in discovering the mysterious far side of the moon, much of which remains unknown.

Germany’s scientific payload is the Lunar Neutrons and Dosimetry instrument developed by the University of Kiel, which is designed to measure radiation on the moon, mainly for future manned flights, and the water content under the landing unit, said Robert Wimmer-Schwengruber, who heads the research group

Karl Bergquist, European Space Agency (ESA) administrator for the Department of International Relations, called the mission Chang & # 39; e-4 scientifically and technologically “very impressive” because “no one has ever done this, so this mission will contribute to the expansion of our knowledge about Moon."

He also called the lunar mission "the first step to further research further."

Stressing the difficulties of landing on the far side due to the control of the spacecraft and the relaying of signals, Wimmer-Schwengruber said that “the satellite is already in place. We are now spinning around the moon. It worked well. ”

Earlier, China had already launched the Queqiao satellite transponder, whose task is to transmit signals between Chang & # 39; e-4 and the ground control panel.

Scientific tasks for Chang & # 39; e-4 also include low-frequency radio astronomy observation, the study of terrain and terrain, as well as the detection of the mineral composition and fine structure of the lunar surface, according to the data of the China National Space Administration (CNSA).


Wimmer-Schweingruber said that he has been working with his Chinese counterparts for almost two decades, and praised China for expanding cooperation with international partners.

In addition to Chang & # 39; e-4, recently, China has offered and promised many opportunities for space cooperation with the EU and beyond.

At the International Astronautical Congress, held in October in the German city of Bremen, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China, Zhang Kejian, emphasized China’s readiness to cooperate with other countries in the framework of the space program.

Zhang, who is also the head of CNSA, noted that Chang & # 39; e-6, the second Chinese lunar mission to return samples, will provide 10 kg of payloads in orbit and landing for international partners.

In May of this year, China also announced in Vienna that all United Nations (UN) member states could work with China to share its future China Space Station (CSS).

“CSS belongs not only to China, but to the whole world,” said Shi Zhongjun, the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations and other international organizations in Vienna.

CSS, which is expected to be launched by 2019 and will be operational by 2022, will be the first space station in the world created by a developing country and open to cooperation with all UN member states.

Yang Warner, director general of the ESA, told Xinhua that the ESA welcomes increased collaboration with the space program of China, and several European astronauts are currently learning Chinese in the preparation process.

In 2015, China and the EU signed a cooperation agreement in the framework of a manned space program, according to which the period from 2015 to 2017 was a stage of technological exchanges, and both parties participate in training programs for cosmonauts to each other.

Mathias Maurer, an ESA astronaut of German nationality, told Xinhua that he had studied Chinese for more than six years.

After participating in a marine survival training program in the waters off the coast of Yantai in Shandong Province in eastern China, organized by the China Astronaut Center in 2017, Maurer hopes to work with astronauts from China and other countries on CSS.


The achievements and openness of China in space exploration are welcomed throughout the world and are believed to give win-win results.

The opening of CSS by China will help strengthen international cooperation in the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, said Simonetta Di Pippo, director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs.

“At present, China is the first participant in our activities in terms of voluntary contributions. It is very important. This is a sign of China’s strong interest in working with us, opening up the world to the possibility of using your funds, ”he said. Di Pippo, who hoped to see more cooperation projects in the future.

Maurer viewed cooperation between China and the EU as mutually beneficial. He said that China has many advantages, such as its own missiles, capsules and a space station.

Europe, on the other hand, has a wealth of experience in long-term space flights, "which can be used in our cooperation for more effective development," said Maurer.

Wimmer-Schweingruber highly appreciated the openness of China, saying that "in order to compensate for the weakness of one country by the force of another, this is how we work from a scientific point of view."

After collaborating on satellites that track earthquakes and their consequences, “now we hope to cooperate more intensively on their new space station, which can offer us important flight opportunities for our astronauts, as well as for the development of experiments and innovative technologies,” said Piero. Benvenuti, Commissioner of the Italian Space Agency.

Werner said that ESA is also discussing the use of the Chinese manned spacecraft Shenzhou to send European astronauts into space in the future. “Although it is not on the agenda, it is possible,” he said.

“We have been working with the Chinese side for more than 25 years. For us Europeans, exploration of the universe, as well as major space science missions, are areas in which we cooperate with all space powers: the United States, Russia, China and Japan, "Bergquist said.

“It is important to promote our knowledge, and if we can do it together, it’s preferable for everyone,” added Bergquist.

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