China expects to be an important player in space by the year 2010, including manned space flight. It expects to make breakthroughs in such areas as satellite application, rocketry, launching and landing facilities, space science and deep space surveying.
The development of space technology has already helped promote many other industries in recent years.
Since 1992, China has established more than 5,000 satellite TV transmitting and receiving stations, 4,800 single receiving stations, and 64,000 ground stations for education programs. This has greatly raised the television viewing rate in the country with about 230 million people benefiting from the facilities.
Chinese communication satellites have created 30 channels for overseas broadcasts. In 1989, China opened 1,500 satellite channels and 200 special satellite networks. A financial data network centering on Beijing was opened linking 350 nationwide sub-stations.
In 1985 and 1986, two satellites completed a territory survey covering 55,000 square km within the area of Beijing, Tianjin and Tangshan, studying the geological composition and identifying earthquake-prone areas, along with establishing the presence of water, forests, cultivated land, saline-alkali land, deserts, and residential quarters. The cost was much lower than a conventional survey.
Through the satellite survey, China discovered new oil structure in the Tarim Basin; established the scope of the deposits in the Datong Coal Mine of Shanxi Province; found seven predicted mines in the Beijing area; and uncovered chromium and iron ore deposits in Inner Mongolia. It also completed a revised map of the Yellow River Delta, as well as ascertaining the drift of silt and sand along the entire length of the Yellow, Luanhe and Haihe rivers; drew the first map of the Nansha Islands; and selected the best route for the construction of the Liupan Mountain Railway.
The activities of the aerospace industry at the end of the 1950s and the early 1960s provided favorable opportunities for the development of the semi-conductor, electronics, raw materials, metering and instrument industries, and promoted the first change in the industrial structure.
Space technological industrialization in the 1970s led to the industrialization of new types of compound materials, special alloys, micro-electronics and computers.
In the 1980s, tremendous progress in space technology and the formation of the space industry, as well as international marketing of space products accelerated the high-tech industries of micro-electronics, computers, communications, new materials and energy.
In the 1990s, satellite applications and manned space flight technologies will promote high-tech industries, including mobile and optic-fiber communications, biological and marine engineering, and new energy sources, thereby creating another leap forward in these areas.
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, 80 percent of 1,100-plus new materials have been manufactured in compliance with the needs of space technology. The Ministry of Astronautics Industry proposed 3,972 research projects for the manufacture of a large-sized carrier rocket during its third stage alone. These included 88 projects of metallurgy, 129 of chemistry, 86 of building materials, 25 of petroleum, 8 of textiles and 45 of light industry. All the materials for the manufacture of the Long March-2 carrier rocket first developed in 1970 were made by China.
Crop seeds developed in space and brought back to earth through returned satellites enabled the output of rice to increase by 20-30 percent, rice protein 8-20 percent; and tomatoes 17.2-23.3 percent. The grain growing period has been shortened by 10 days and this will also help increase grain output by 5 billion tons during 1996-2000.
However, all these only represent the 20th century. It is universally recognized that a country's investment in space will directly reflect its leading position in space technology. In 1987, for example, annual space investment by the former Soviet Union totaled $30 billion, followed by the United States with $21 billion, $850 million by France, $725 million by Japan, $370 million by the former Federal Republic of Germany, and $245 million by India.
The space industry has been regarded as an engine for economic growth in the 21st century. Americans are determined that they must lead the way into space. The people of Europe equally regard their space industry as playing a key role in decision-making power over science, industry and economy. Japan strives for its economic, scientific and technological development through space exploration. Even some developing countries have also constantly increased their investment and striven for a position in this international competition.
In the 21st century, China will rely on its own space technology to create a more prosperous and developed country.