Six experiments have been granted a place aboard to the future Chinese Space Station through a joint international cooperation initiative, with three more receiving conditional acceptance, Spacenews.com reported.
The results of the selection process were announced jointly by the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs and the China Manned Space Agency on the sidelines of the 62nd session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space in Vienna.
The UNOOSA-CMSA initiative received 42 applications from organizations in 27 countries. The winning institutions are based in a wide range of countries, namely Belgium, China, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, the Netherlands, Norway, Mexico, Poland, Peru, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Spain and Switzerland.
The proposals cover areas including astronomy, space medicine, space life science, biotechnology, microgravity fluid physics, microgravity combustion and space technologies, the report said.
Among the experiments are POLAR-2, involving a consortium of organizations from Switzerland, Poland, Germany and China, which will seek to detect Gamma-ray burst polarimetry, following a first experiment aboard the Tiangong-2 space lab.
Wang Qun, ambassador and permanent representative of China to the UN, said: “The CSS cooperation is a vivid manifestation of the multilateralism upheld by China and the international system, with the United Nations at its core. Through this opportunity, the achievements of China’s space development will bring benefits to the international community.”
Dr Bleddyn Bowen, a lecturer in international relations at the University of Leicester in the UK, told Spacenews.com that a range of motivations can be identified in China’s opening of its space station to international participation.
“Chinese space power plays an important role in (Chinese President) Xi Jinping’s effort to develop, maintain, and enhance its prestigious image and soft power in international relations, and establishing the perception of China as a technological rival to that of the United States, perhaps even surpassing Russia,” said Bowen.
China is maintaining that the target for completion of the CSS is “around 2022,” though the launch and construction plans would apparently need to be condensed.
A nominal Long March 5 flight is required before a test flight of the Long March 5B. If successful, the CSS core module ‘Tianhe,” meaning “harmony of the heavens,” could then be launched, likely no earlier than the second half of 2020, the report said.