THREE Chinese astronauts busying themselves on the new Tiangong, or Heavenly Palace, space station module account for just one of China’s achievements in the past six months pertaining to outer space.
In addition to manning the new space station’s core module in orbit, China also recently became just the second nation to land a rover on Mars with the Tianwen 1 mission and Zhurong probe. And at the beginning of the year, the Chang’e 5 mission successfully brought back samples of lunar rock.
Furthermore, China and Russia have released a joint road map for building the International Lunar Research Station, which will be the first structures built on the moon, by 2036.
China’s space authorities and astronauts have expressed willingness to welcome foreign partners and participation in the new space station, even though China has not been able to participate in the international space station led by the United States since the 1990s.
China’s achievements come on the back of a space programme that only sent its first astronauts into space in 2003, showing the extraordinary pace of the nation’s space exploration.
However, some may interpret China’s aspirations in the wrong way, accusing the country of seeking dominance or hegemony in space and being in a “space race“ with Nasa and the US.
While the United States largely perceives expansion into space through the medium of military ambitions, inaugurating its Space Force under the former president Donald Trump’s administration, China has a nonmilitary view of space exploration that is attached to the principle of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. It sees advances in science as a means for accelerating global prosperity and economic development.
China is a signatory of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which explicitly opposes the militarisation of space and urges the peaceful use of the cosmos for the common benefit of humankind. This is the direction we must take in what we envision to achieve in the universe.
With so much still to learn and discover, consequential transformations in how we live and experience the world surely lie ahead but are yet to be envisioned. — China Daily/ANN