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UPDATED: April 18, 2014
China Issues First Assessment on International Space Activities

A leading space research group in China released the country's first assessment of the current situation and future trends of international space activities on Thursday.

The report, compiled by Qian Xuesen Laboratory of Launch Vehicle Technology, provided facts and figures about exploration in outer space.

The report showed that space activities have flourished in recent years. Big space powers led in terms of satellite launch attempts and in-orbit assets.

Modern facilities and equipment used in space activities are mostly owned by leading space powers.

So far, 12 countries have gained the ability to launch satellites independently, said the report.

Of the 159 launches that took place between 2012 and 2013, 86.8 percent were conducted by 4 leading powers, including Russia, the United States, China and the European Union.

There were an estimated 1,084 satellites in orbit by August 2013, according to a calculation by the research group based on figures from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

A total of 461 satellites are independently owned by the United States. Russia had 111 and the European Union possessed 110.

The three powers had 63 percent of global space assets, said the report.

Li Hongbo, a member of the research group and an expert with the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), warned of a trend toward using space for military purposes that has emerged in recent years.

"Current international laws and regulations have been ineffective to contain it," said Li.

The research group called for peaceful exploration and utilization of outer space.

The Chinese Government has made the space industry an important part of the nation's overall development strategy. Over the past few years, China has ranked among the world's leading countries in areas of space technology.

China sent Tiangong-1, its first space lab and target orbiter to orbit in 2011. China is expected to launch the Tiangong-2 space lab around 2015.

China's lunar probe Chang'e-3, with the country's first moon rover Yutu onboard, landed on the moon's Sinus Iridum in 2013, making China the third country in the world to carry out such a rover mission after the United States and former Soviet Union.

The research group worked under CALT, which is part of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. The report will be released on a regular basis biennially, according to the research group.

(Xinhua News Agency April 17, 2014)

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