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Looking forward to higher-level space cooperation with China: South African engineer

By Eugene Avenant As Chinese astronauts recently completed China’s first in-orbit crew rotation, China’s space station has entered an era of long-term manned residence.. China’s space industry is developing at an admirable speed. 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of China’s manned space program. Over the past three decades, China has independently developed its manned space program, completed the construction of its space station, and made leapfrog achievements in space technology. The country has also launched lunar and planetary exploration missions, making continuous breakthroughs in space science. It is one of the most dynamic players in the space field. The rapid development of China’s space industry comes from the country’s ever-growing capability in science and technology as well as innovation. China has constantly expanded the size of its aerospace personnel and stepped up its efforts to become a world center for talent and innovation in the aerospace field. Besides, its manufacturing sector also offers strong support for the development of its space industry. China actively advances international cooperation and exchanges in space and promotes space technology to better benefit people around the world. Space and satellite technology can significantly improve the modern development of African countries in climate monitoring, seed breeding, disaster prevention and relief, communication and other fields. China has not only assisted African countries in the manufacturing and launch of satellites on many occasions, but also fully supported them to foster the capability to independently develop the space sector. Offering high-quality training for African researchers in the designing, manufacturing, launching and controlling of satellites, China has nurtured a batch of space talents on the African continent. South Africa has launched in-depth space cooperation with China. A China-Brazil earth resource satellite has established a ground data receiving and processing system in South Africa, which provides various services for countries in Southern Africa in the management of water and soil resources, disaster monitoring and urban planning. In 2021, the South African National Space Agency and the Chinese side inked a Memorandum of Understanding between the Parties for Satellite Navigation Cooperation for Peaceful Purposes, which marked another important step taken by the two sides in advancing South Africa-China cooperation in the application of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System. Batches of Chinese taikonauts have entered space, becoming heroes for many African teenagers. The Talk with Taikonauts event held in September 2022, during which three Chinese taikonauts talked from space with the youth from eight African countries via video link, has planted a seed of space dreams in the heart of many African adolescents. I sincerely congratulate China on its outstanding achievements in space and am looking forward to higher-level space cooperation between South Africa and China. The South African space industry hopes to launch closer personnel exchanges and more intensive scientific cooperation with China, and to further expand the two sides’ cooperation on the application of space technology, so as to better benefit the two peoples. I believe South Africa and China will surely enjoy broader cooperation in space. (Eugene Avenant is the chief engineer for the South African National Space Agency Space Operations division)

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