This week saw a continuation of the Two Sessions in Beijing, with several more space-related updates. Due to the number of updates, we have put one or two in their corresponding sections below, in addition to the updates in the highlight of the week.
First, Zhou Jianping, Chief Designer of China’s Manned Space Program
, said he looks forward to welcoming foreign astronauts onto the country’s space station after it is completed and operating stably. 2022 is a major year for the space station
, with two large lab modules (Wentian
) planned for launch in Q2 and Q3, in addition to two more crewed launches (Shenzhou-14 and -15
Zhou noted that after completion of the space station, future crews will be more focused on science and technology research, and will include crew members that are flight engineers, payload specialists, and others who are more specialized in a specific field, rather than generalist taikonauts.
Finally, and perhaps most significantly, Zhou said that the Chinese Space Station would be open to commercial activity, noting that
“When our space station is completed and running, we will actively encourage the private sector to engage in China’s manned space program in various ways. There are many possibilities. We hope there will be competitive, cost-efficient commercial space players to participate in areas including space application and space resource development”.
Zhou also reiterated some concepts that appeared in the recently-published China 2021 Space White Paper
about the importance of commercial space in developing China’s space program, and the increasing importance of the space sector to the broader economy.
Next, China’s first astronaut Yang Liwei
also mentioned that it wasn’t impossible that ordinary civilians visited the Chinese Space Station
during the 14th FYP period (2021-2025), due to the strong development of commercial space, a pretty incredible statement considering how recently there was no such thing as commercial space in China.
, deputy director of the National Satellite Meteorological Center, submitted a proposal named “On Promoting China’s Commercial Aerospace Orderly and Rapid Development
”, which called for the clarification of the roles played by commercial companies vs SoEs. While acknowledging China’s growing commercial space ecosystem, Zhang called it “to some extent small, scattered, chaotic, short-term”. Clarification in the division of labor would “enable China to see its own SpaceX emerge”.
, Chief Designer of China Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP), was interviewed
on the topic of space governance. During the interview, Wu noted that with the increasing number of satellites being launched, there is a need for an international organization for coordination of orbits and frequencies. During the National People’s Congress, Wu submitted a proposal concerning the modernization of space governance, emphasizing the need for multilateral, international solutions.
On a somewhat related note, Yang Mengfei
from CAST was interviewed by
the Central Radio Station, during which time he spoke about the importance of protecting China’s in-space assets.
During the interview, Yang referred to the increasing number of satellites being launched, and specifically to the two near-misses in 2021 of the Chinese Space Station by Starlink satellites. Yang noted that China would launch >400 satellites in 2022, and called for proactively promoting the formulation of “space asset protection policies”.
VP of CAST Zhao Xiaojin
promoted the development of Chinese space biosecurity
, through the establishment of new policies and regulations, and encouraging research in the area. Zhao also suggested the establishment of a dedicated Key State Laboratory on space biosecurity.
, CASC’s 6th Academy Party Committee secretary, emphasized the necessity for SOEs in key sectors of the economy to engage in efforts to provide affordable housing to employees, as a measure to attract and retain talent
. Housing pressure has increased significantly in China over the past years, and entry-level salaries at aerospace SOEs are low compared to roles in the private sector for applicants with comparable skills.
, vice-chairman and chief engineer of CASIC Sanjiang Ruike, suggested encouraging the use of domestic equipment and instruments
, to support the development of Chinese domestic companies. Also highlights the growing competitiveness of Chinese high tech equipment compared to international competition. Suggests that the policy should be implemented by provinces, municipalities, and SoEs. Policy could be implemented with tax exemptions and rebates.
And finally, Ma Jie
, secretary of the party committee of CASIC’s 2nd Academy, mentioned that the Tiankun-2 smallsat prototype would launch soon
, and that the satellite would aim at testing various key smallsat platform technologies. It would present many improvements over the Tiankun-1, a prototype launched by CASIC in 2017.