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China catching up with US in space tech: scientist
Posted On: Jun 18, 2012
An artistic illustration of China's first space station module Tiangong-1.
With China poised to establish its own space lab after the successful launch of its manned mission to experiment manual space docking, a leading Chinese scientist has said the technological gap between China and advanced countries like US is narrowing fast.
"The technological disparity is narrowing fast," Lu Xinguang, designer of the control system of the upgraded Long March-2F rocket, that safely propelled Shenzhou-9, carrying China's first woman astronaut astronauts into space, said.
"The speed of development grows increasingly fast, which means some gaps might have needed 50 years to close in the past, but only 10 years in the future," he told state-run Xinhua news agency.
An example of this pace can be seen in comparing the technical leaps forward that China needed to make in launching the unmanned Shenzhou-8 spacecraft and orbiting space lab module Tiangong-1, and now Shenzhou-9.
The former required a big improvement in the Long March carrier rocket used, but the latter only slight improvement.
"The rocket already met the needs of manned space flight," Lu said.
With the successful launch of Shenzhou-9, the country's fourth manned spaceship China which has to develop its aerospace programmed on its due to restrictions can expects more international input in future space missions.
"International cooperation will be a trend for future space exploration. The trend will be inevitable. International space standards will be set up for future dockings at international space stations," he said.
Various countries have distinct strengths in different fields of space technology, a fact which would make integrating resources through cooperation beneficial, according to Lu.
"In many fields, Western countries are better than us.
But we are already able to send human beings to space independently, which shows that our technologies have reached a higher level. We do have our strong points," Lu said.
"It is impossible to get access to others' technologies currently, but with the development of China's technologies, other countries will gradually open. They will choose to cooperate with us when China has enough abilities," he said.
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