Twitter Facebook Flickr YouTube

China In Space


Jen (): Hello, today the Jodcast team is at the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester.

Neil (): So we're here at the opening of an exhibition documenting space science in China, all the way back from gunpowder to manned space missions. And to bring us more, we're going directly to Dr Robin Holgate.

Jen (): So could you tell us a little bit about the partnership with China that brought this exhibition about?

Robin Holgate (): There are two or three organisations that we've established a partnership with: the first is the Chinese Science and Technology Museum - we went over and visited them last year. But at the same time, through our links with the Confucius Institute we met up with the China Hi-tech Industrialization Association to see if there was an exhibition that we could bring over from China to the UK, and this space exhibition is one that they've developed, shown around China, and it became possible for us to then bring this over for the first time this exhibition had come outside China, and we're happy that they're quite pleased to go with Manchester as a venue for this.

Jen (): So could you tell us a little bit more about what's actually in this exhibition?

Robin (): Well the exhibition is covering the first dreams or aspirations of people in China to fly, right through to the present day. So it begins in the Song Dynasty, at a time when China - one of the early civilisations - had discovered gunpowder, and people from that had developed the use of rockets, partly for military purposes, but, allied with that, were the ideas of one or two people how you could strap rockets to chairs and that could be a way in which people could then fly. One or two early attempts at this - I'm not quite sure how they went! - but essentially the exhibition is looking at those early sorts of dreams of flight, and comes then straight up to the present day with, in the 1950s, the launch of the space programme: sending satellites into space for a range of purposes, then sending the first rockets into space - manned rockets - and the initial space walks, and now the plans for a space lab to orbit the Earth, and also to land on the Moon in the near future as well. And then just setting the scene for future developments in aerospace in China.

Jen (): Representatives from China came over for the launch of the exhibition, and we managed to grab Mr Yu Zhang of the China High-tech Industrialization Association to tell us more about the Chinese space programme.

Neil (): Could you just speak a little bit about the actual history of space flight and the significance, or the role, that China has played in developing astronomy?

Yu Zhang (Kuo) (): Chinese space industry was established in 1956. For the past fifty years, China has been totally self-sufficient to carry out research, perform innovation and fund her own way ahead.

Neil (): I wonder if you could talk, maybe, a little bit about some of the scientific goals - the astronomical things - which are associated with the space programme of China.

Yu Zhang (): There are several stages in Chinese space projects. The first was to send a man-made satellite into space - our first milestone. The second was manned space flight, which was achieved in October 2003, by launching the first Chinese manned space ship. The third step was to launch Chang'e 1 Moon satellite in 2007. The next goal will be establishing a space work station orbiting the Earth. After the first Moon satellite in 2007, we are supposed to send a lunar rover in 2012 and manage a return trip in 2018.

Neil (): Will there be any co-operation or collaboration with NASA, ESA or some of the other international space agencies with the Chinese space programme?

Yu Zhang (): We have quite a few international partnerships: for example, we developed and launched the Resource Satellite with the Brazilian government. We also co-operate with the Russians on the Mars detector project: the plan is to land the detector onto the surface of Mars to carry out exploration.

Neil (): What are we likely to expect from the China National Space Administration?

Yu Zhang (): Development of the Chinese space industry is also the government's wish. Our future goal is to send astronauts onto the surface of the Moon, which is supposed to become reality in the next twenty to thirty years.

Neil (): China has been launching space missions since 1970, when the Dong Fang Hong 1 satellite was put into orbit around the Earth. Since 1999, a series of China-Brazil Earth Resource Satellites have been making optical and infra-red observations of the Earth's natural and man-made environments, and the images they produce are freely available online. Meanwhile, China's manned space programme has produced the Shenzhou space craft, in which Yang Liwei became the first Chinese astronaut, or taikonaut, in 2003. The future of the programme is the Tiangong 1 space laboratory - due for launch next year - to be followed by a permanently manned space station in around ten years.

Jen (): Beyond Earth, the Chang'e 1 lunar orbiter sent back 3D images of the Moon's surface in 2007, and further Chang'e missions will land rovers to analyse the geology and topology of the Moon, and, eventually, bring samples from the lunar surface back to Earth. China is also the only country currently working towards sending humans back to the Moon. Further out in the Solar System, an ongoing collaboration with Russia to explore Mars will see the orbiter Yinghuo 1 launch in 2011, ahead of later missions to land on the Martian surface.

Neil (): All China's space missions have been launched using the Long March family of rockets.

Jen (): The exhibition - From Gunpowder to Space Rockets - is at Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry until the 7th of August, 2010.

Show Credits

Presenters:Jen Gupta & Neil Young
Writers:Mark Purver, Jen Gupta & Neil Young
Interviewee:Dr Robin Holgate
Interviewee:Mr Yu Zhang
Translation:Kuo Liu & Xiaochen Zhang
Camera:Mark Purver & Stuart Lowe
Editors:Mark Purver, Jen Gupta & Neil Young
Opening sequence:Mike Peel
Music:Susan M. Lockwood & Kevin MacLeod
Executive Producer:Stuart Lowe
Filmed on location at:MOSI, Manchester
Special thanks to:Karen Wang, Confucius Institute
Image credits:Mark Wade
Cover art:China Space Exhibition
Website:Stuart Lowe

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Download Options

Subscribe (It's free)