Space, the next frontier


The world is no longer enough to fulfill Chinese ambitions, it seems.

Forty years after the launch of the first special economic zone in Shenzhen, news this week that policymakers are promoting the idea of a special zone in space seemed a little far-fetched. But the reports were actually true, with insiders telling Science and Technology Daily about plans for an ‘Earth-moon’ economic zone that could generate $10 trillion a year.

Scientists linked to the programme said the idea is to make advances in low-cost aerospace transport systems. China aims to master the basic technology behind space flights by 2030, build the systems by 2040, and establish the economic zone sometime around 2050, says Bao Weimin, the head of the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation’s science and technology commission.

The Global Times was suitably impressed with the idea, noting that it would accelerate the development of China’s space projects, including the launch of the Long March-5 carrier rocket, which is expected to send the Chang’e-5 probe to the moon next year. A heavy-lift carrier rocket called Long March-9 is also expected to make its first flight around 2030, the newspaper added, supporting deep space exploration and the construction of a space-based solar power plant.

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