China unveils ambitious space programmes
Beijing, March 12 (PTI): China has unveiled an ambitious blueprint for developing space science that includes the launch of the country's first astronomy satellite and efforts to transform the nation into an "innovative country".
The astronomical satellite will carry a "hard X-ray modulation telescope," which is being developed by Chinese scientists for launch in 2010, according to the Space Science Development Plan.
The plan was released by the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence for the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10) over the weekend.
The project will help Chinese scientists make breakthroughs in research of black hole physics and other fields, as hard X-rays originate mostly from regions close to black holes, experts said.
The telescope would be preceded by Shijian-10, a recoverable satellite to be sent in 2009 for scientific experiments, 'China Daily' reported.
The document singles out three international cooperative projects to be implemented in the current Five-Year Plan period.
They include a joint unmanned mission to Mars with Russia, which will not only bring samples back to Earth but also land on one of the red planet's tiny moons.
China and Russia will also work on the World Satellite Observatory of Ultra-Violet.
Another international cooperation project is the Small Explorer for Solar Eruptions (SMESE), a Chinese-French mission to observe solar flares and Coronal Mass Ejections for the next Solar Maximum in about 2011.
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