Interview: UN space chief hails broad, in-depth cooperation with China

Source: Xinhua| 2019-06-14 01:17:15|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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By Wang Zichen

VIENNA, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Simonetta Di Pippo, Director of the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs, has hailed China's accomplishment in space as well as the country's close cooperation with the UN office.

The 62nd session of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space is ongoing here in Vienna, from June 12 to 21.

A Chinese navigation exhibition and the announcement of which international scientific experiments would fly with the China Space Station (CSS) took place in close proximity -- in both timing and location -- to the session. And on the sidelines, Di Pippo told Xinhua this week "we are waiting for the Chinese space station to become a reality."

Before the CSS becomes operational, expected around 2022, China has been engaging in a series of space explorations.

"One of the most recent accomplishments for sure is the launch and landing of Chang'e-4 on the far side to the moon just in January this year," Di Pippo said. "But also it's the beginning of a long set of missions exploring moon and the other planets."

China's Chang'e-4 probe, launched on Dec. 8, 2018, made the first-ever soft landing on the Von Karman Crater in the South Pole-Aitken Basin on the far side of the moon on Jan. 3.

Also, China's Beidou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) is now "a real pillar in this architecture" of global navigation satellite systems, the UN space chief said.

China began to construct the BDS, named after the Chinese term for the Big Dipper constellation, in the 1990s. It started serving China with its BDS-1 system in 2000 and started serving the Asia-Pacific region with its BDS-2 system in 2012. China will complete the BDS global network by 2020.

"Together with Beidou, we bring up the same table the Russian Federation with GLONASS, the Europeans with Galileo and the Americans with GPS, plus others which are launch their own systems," she said.

These systems are not in a war with each other, the UN space chief said, as there is a mechanism called ICG (International Committee on Global Navigation Satellite Systems), which is "a sort of a role model in terms of international cooperation, because we put together all the providers and in this way we can increase precision".

"We can add a higher number of satellites and coverage so the signal is more precise and more stable", which she said would allow the signals to be "used by everyone in the world".

As the UN space chief, the trained Italian astrophysicist is big on international cooperation, and appreciates Chinese emphasis in this area.

In cooperating with the China Manned Space Agency in opening the CSS to international scientific experiments from all UN member states, she said it's "the first time that something like that has been done".

"We have other agreements with other space agencies and other entities to do similar things, but not so broad as in the case of the CSS," Di Pippo said.

"In the previous activities we did with other entities including JAXA for example, or the European Space Agency, we were talking any case small experiments. Here in this case obviously the technical implications are far more serious," she said.

"We have also a lot of other agreements and discussions ongoing with different Chinese organizations," she added.