Chinas Space Program CHINA CITES ‘GREAT PROGRESS’ IN MANNED SPACE PROGRAM By Daniel Southerland (c) 1986, The Washington Post PEKING – China has made “great progress” in developing a manned space program and the day it launches a man in space for the first time is “not far off,” an official newspaper said Sunday. The overseas edition of the People’s Daily, the leading Communist Party newspaper, said China has “already begun the work of choosing its first team of astronauts.” Although it gave few details, the article made it sound as though China is preparing to launch its first men into space much sooner than many foreign observers had thought possible. “We have already succeeded in producing life-support systems and in solving the problems of controlling gas composition and pressure in the cabin and the level of heat and humidity,” the report said. The report, published Sunday, said the Chinese have developed the largest centrifuge of its kind in Asia and Europe to simulate cabin conditions created by the launching of a spaceship. “The day when a Chinese goes roaming through space is not far off,” the report said.
On June 5 of this year, Sun Jiadong, vice minister of astronautics, told reporters that China would put a man into space but that such a program “must be worked out gradually in keeping with our needs and capabilities.” A foreign observer who has followed the Chinese space program said it could still be a few years before China puts a man into orbit. The People’s Daily report did not say how many astronauts are being trained or exactly when they might go into space. The Chinese have appeared to be working for several years on problems associated with building a space shuttle. A high-ranking official of China’s national defense, science and technology commission confirmed last May that there had been debate over the feasibility of deploying a space shuttle. According to the China Business Review, a magazine published in Washington, D.C., China has been experimenting for more than 10 years with the thermal problems associated with spacecraft re-entry. The Chinese also have been developing space food and space suits for at least seven years, according to published reports.
The first publicity about the astronauts began to appear in Chinese magazines in 1980. In early 1980, Science Life magazine, published in Shanghai, described a group of astronauts undergoing fairly sophisticated training, including use of a high-speed centrifuge and a simulated spaceship. Trainees were reported to be wearing airtight spacesuits designed for use on the moon. ================================================== =============================.