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China, International Space Leadership, Call for Global Cooperation

June 6, 2017 (EIRNS)—At the opening the three-day Global Space Exploration (GLEX) conference today in Beijing, President Xi Jinping told the more than one thousand delegates from 51 countries in a letter read by Vice President Li Yuanchao, that China is willing to enhance cooperation with the international community, as he hailed achievements made in space exploration. He said that progress in space science and technology will benefit people around the world in the future. China attaches great importance to space exploration as well as innovation in space science and technology, said Xi, noting that his country wants to use these achievements to create a better future for mankind. He expressed hope that the conference will promote international exchanges and cooperation.

The GLEX conferences are sponsored by the prestigous International Astronautical Federation (IAF), which formed in 1950, and is headquartered in Paris. The "members" of the IAF are space institutions and organizations from almost every nation in the world. The Chinese sentiment for closer international cooperation was enthusiastically echoed by Roberto Battiston, President of the Italian Space Agency, who praised this dream of a "global space agency," as quoted by the IAF.

Delegates attended a Plenary event organized by the Chinese host, which highlighted the key role played by other nations in in China’s Chang’e-4 lunar mission, which include the European Space Agency and Germany.

Senior Chinese astronaut Yang Liwei told the GLEX conference participants that China is planning at least four manned space flights over the next five years, to build its space station. China will orbit the core module and two research laboratories, with docking ports that can accomodate laboratories (and astronauts) contributed by other countries.

The core module will be launched (unmanned) in 2019, with station completion slated for 2022. Yang said that two manned missions will be conducted in 2020, which will be for station assembly. In an interview with Beijing Youth Daily, Yang said that later this year, China will select its next class of astronauts.

"The first batch of astronauts were all bachelor’s degree-holders selected from the PLA Air Force. Now, we will give more consideration to aerospace engineers and other experts from broader society. They will more likely be postgraduates,"

he said.

Yang predicted that Chinese astronauts would land on the moon by around 2030, adding, "One day, we may go to Mars, or even further."