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China Releases Space Plan: ‘Steady As She Goes’

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EIRNS—On Jan. 28 China’s State Council released a White Paper entitled: “China’s Space Program: A 2021 Perspective.” Since the last White Paper was issued in 2016, China has had major accomplishments in space: the completion of the first phase of the lunar exploration program, the start of the construction of the space station, and the first interplanetary mission to Mars. In regard to the manned space program, they had announced the future International Lunar Research Station (ILRS).

For the next five years the focus will be on consolidating those accomplishments and developing the space industry. The Preamble says: “The space industry is a critical element of the overall national strategy” and will “contribute more to China’s growth as a whole.” Already space assets have become an important part of China’s high-speed rail program, disaster alleviation capabilities and poverty alleviation programs. The space industry is “innovation-driven,” they write. “China puts innovation at the core of the space industry.”

China has a two-pronged approach to international cooperation. First, seeking partners for the space station and the ILRS among other space-faring nations. Second, China has taken responsibility for bringing developing countries into the space arena. “Since 2016 China has signed 46 space cooperation agreements or memoranda of understanding with 19 countries and regions and four international organizations,” the White Paper states. Through programs affiliated with the United Nations and its own regional organizations China has trained almost 1,000 space industry professionals. A special focus for increasing access to space technology are the Belt and Road countries. The White Paper states, “China will press ahead with the construction of the Belt and Road Initiative Space Information Corridor.” ( [mgf]