The national space agency responsible for the national space program in China is the China National Space Administration (CNSA). This agency is said to be in charge of the planning and development of space activities. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) and the China Aerospace Corporation took over the China space program from the Ministry of Aerospace Industry. It serves as a subsidiary agency under the State Administration for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) which is also a subsidiary of Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). The China National Space Administration has its headquarters located in Haidian District of Beijing.
HISTORY OF THE CHINA NATIONAL SPACE ADMINISTRATION (CNSA)
The CNSA is a space agency established in 1993 when the Ministry of Aerospace Industry was divided in the China Aerospace Corporation (CASC) and China National Space Administration (CNSA). The China Aerospace Corporation (CASC) is in charge of space policy in China while the China National Space Administration (CNSA) is in charge of the execution of the policy. However, this situation turned out inadequate results as a result of the fact that these two agencies are in effect one large agency that shares both management and personnel.
This is why; China announced in 1998 during a big restructuring, that the CASC was divided into a few smaller state-owned companies. This restructuring was done to create a system that has similar characteristics to that of Western Defense procurement in which units that are government agencies set operational policy and would then contract out their operational requirements to units that are owned by the government but not managed by the government.
The main goal of the establishment of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) is to develop and fulfill China’s due international obligations with the approval of the Eighth National People’s Congress of China (NPC). The Ninth NPC has announced the CNSA will be an internal structure of the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (COSTIND). The main responsibilities of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) include;
- Signing government agreement that has to do with China’s space program on behalf of the organization and inter-governmental scientific and technical exchanges.
- The agency is also in charge of the execution of the national space policies.
- The agency is also in charge of managing the national space science, technology, and industry.
- The China National Space Administration has also signed governmental space cooperation agreements with other countries like Chile, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Ukraine, Russia, the United States, France, India, Pakistan, Italy, Germany, and some other countries. The governmental space cooperation agreements have resulted in significant achievements.
The China National Space Administration has about four main departments and they are;
- Department of Foreign Affairs
- Department of General Planning
- Department of Science, Technology and Quality Control
- Department of System Engineering
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) is the national agency that manages all of China’s Space activities. But unlike the other national space agencies in other countries worldwide, the agency is not associated with the International Space Station. However, the agency has a small space station of its own.
In 2003, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) was able to take Yang Liwei to space. Yang Liwei then became the first Chinese man in Space. And since then, the agency has been able to launch several manned spacecraft into space. The agency also launched its first Chinese manned docking named Shenzhou 9 that has a three-man crew in space, attaching to the single room station, Tiangong 1.
In December 2014, the Space agency was also able to successfully make its first soft landing on the moon in decades with its spacecraft Chang’e 3 and its rover, Yutu. The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has also been making periodic launches alone using its Chang Zheng (Long March) rocket series.
Some time ago, China’s space agency announced its plan to become the first agency to successfully land a spacecraft on the far side of the moon which is always hidden from view. This mission will prove to be a little challenging because of the fact that it is impossible to receive and transmit radio transmission from there which makes communication with their ground space station impossible. But the success of such missions will provide humans with more insights on many things that we do not know about the moon such as what is going on deep beneath its thick crust.
The spacecraft that was designed to be launched into the far side of the moon by China is known as Chang’e 4 and it was scheduled launched sometime in late 2018. However, this spacecraft was able to reach the far side of the moon on January 2, 2019. The Chang’e 4 was named after the popular Moon goddess in China.
Another history made by the Chang’e 4 space mission is plant growth on the moon. Almost two weeks after the Chang’e 4 landed successfully on the moon, the China National Space Administration announced that the cotton and potato seeds that were taken to the moon on the Chang’e spacecraft have started to germinate. Although plants have previously been grown on the International Space Station, this marks the first time a biological matter has been grown on the moon.
The seed for these plants was made dormant for the 20 days duration of the trip to the moon. The cotton and potato seed are not growing in a sealed container on the spacecraft where they will attempt to create a small biosphere. This mission is considered a huge step in the consideration of future survival in space.
The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has been announcing some of its future plans for space travel and exploration. China space agency has also revealed that it has plans to launch another spacecraft to land on the moon by the end of 2019. This spacecraft will be called Chang’e 5 and it will be able to enable astronauts to scoop up samples and return the specimens to the scientists on Earth for detailed analysis in ground-based laboratories.
The CNSA has also revealed that it will launch two more Chang’e Landers, Chang’e 6 and Chang’e 7. This new Chang’e Landers will focus mainly on the south pole of the moon. The Chang’e 6 will be launched and then it will return with samples from the moon’s South Pole, while the Chang’e 7 will be launched to conduct comprehensive surveys around the region including the study of the region’s terrain, landform, and its physical composition. It was also revealed that another Chang’e lander, Chang’e 8 will be launched to test key technologies as the foundation for potential development of a science and research base on the Moon which is our nearest celestial body.
The China National Space Administration has also announced its plan to send a possible probe to the Red Planet, Mars by 2020. The main objective of the China National Space Administration is to explore the space and look for regions that will later be a space station. This agency has also expressed its interest in the permanent colonization of Mars for future human habitation.