March 10 saw the US space shuttle Columbia succeeded in sending a reinvigorated Hubble Space Telescope on its way after almost a week of being docked together as teams of astronauts conducted five spacewalks in five days to renovate and repair the 12-year-old telescope.
As reported, China is also scheduled to launch its first space telescope, or the Chinese version of Hubble, into orbit in the near future.
With a 100-cm optical lens and a group of X-ray equipped telescopes on it, the 2-ton-weight telescope, called "Space Solar Telescope", is designed with a service term of three to five years. With the cost of over RMB 2 billion yuan, the Space Solar Telescope is China's most expensive space explorer by far.
Differing from Hubble, China's Space Solar Telescope will focus on diversification of solar magnetic field, as well as solar activities and the space climate.
According to a Chinese astronomer, with the capability of suppressing interference from the aerosphere, the space astronomical telescope may provide a higher resolution ration. With no equipment of this kind in hand, China has to submit the application and research project schedule in advance if it wants to use Hubble. And the research project will be permitted only after it is approved by concerned institutions.
As reported, China is at the world top level in manufacture of optical lens, while in the explorer part, which features the highest technologies of space telescope, a big gap of almost 20 years is still ahead for China to catch up with the world top level. Hereby China has to buy the key components of the space telescope from the developed countries.
(People's Daily March 11, 2002)