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China hopes to join International Space Station project
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China hopes to become the 17th nation joining the International Space Station (ISS) project, Vice Minister of Science and Technology Li Xueyong said on Tuesday.


"China sincerely wants to cooperate with the United States in space exploration and join the International Space Station project that has already involved 16 nations," said Li, a delegate to the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), on the sidelines of the event.


The Chinese government has been pursuing a policy of peaceful use of airspace, Li said.


The International Space Station is a joint project of 16 nations including the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, Brazil and 11 countries from the European Space Agency.


The station's first segment, the Zarya control module, was brought to orbit by a Russian Proton rocket in November 1998 to provide the infant station's battery power and fuel storage.


The station is located in orbit around the Earth at an altitude of approximately 360 kilometers, a type of orbit usually termed as low Earth orbit.


Due to the ISS, there is a permanent human presence in space, as there have always been at least two people on board the station since the first crew entered it on November 2, 2000.


China will soon launch its first circumlunar satellite as part of its ambitious moon exploration program enters the stage of implementation. Development of the satellite, called Chang'e I after the legendary Chinese goddess Chang'e who flew to the moon, and the carrier Long March 3A has been completed after numerous tests.


(Xinhua News Agency October 17, 2007)

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