Senior UN official praises development of China's space program

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China's space station will be an ideal international cooperation platform and the world is expecting China to escalate its space program, said a senior official of the United Nations after watching the launch of the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft in the Gobi desert on Saturday.

Dr. Mazlan Othman, director of the Vienna-headquartered United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), told Xinhua at northwest China's Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center that the world is "waiting very anxiously for China's space station to be completed, which will give another opportunity for international cooperation."

She said she hopes to see "a great involvement of developing countries" through China's space program.

"The world is watching China," said the Malaysian astrophysicist.

China launched the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft on Saturday to test the country's manual space docking technology. Aboard the craft are three astronauts, including China's first female astronaut.

"I'm excited as I'm also a female," said Othman, also deputy director-general of the United Nations Office at Vienna. She added that the United Nations promotes gender equality. By 2020, China's space station could be the only space station, and China's role is even more important, she said, adding that the world is looking to China for international cooperation in the space sector.

Aboard the Shenzhou 8 spacecraft that was launched last November to conduct the country's first space docking, there was an experiment box containing 17 life science experiments jointly conducted by Chinese and German scientists. It was the first time that China had allowed foreign experiments operated in the Chinese space vessel.

Othman said her office aims to ensure such experiment is "widened and deepened," and countries together benefit from being in space.

China's space station in the future offers UN opportunities to conduct space experiments, she said, adding, "Medical research in space has benefit people on Earth, which can be improved further when we have the Chinese space station (around 2020)."

Countries, such as Russia, the United States, Japan and China should work together to give human kind all the benefit obtained from space, said Othman.

China is able to leapfrog because the technology has changed so much, such as computers, which is very helpful for China to escalate its space program, she said.

"We hope there is the first female astronaut landing on the moon, maybe China can do this. We also hope there is woman as well as man landing on Mars," she said.

In an era of international cooperation, "the more countries embark on space activities, the better it is for the world, as no one country can do everything today," Othman said.

The UNOOSA promotes peaceful uses of outer space and ensures that developing countries have a great participation in space activities, she said, adding that China has been particular active with the office.

"China's space program gives an example that China can lead in certain areas," she said.

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