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HK's role in space to grow: agency

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 27 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 27 July, 2008, 12:00am


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Hong Kong is to play a bigger role in the mainland's space programme.

The Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, or CASTC - the nation's lead space- exploration agency - announced on Friday that the city had been selected as one of four sites to host facilities as part of an expanded programme.

It is understood that rather than hosting launch facilities, Hong Kong will be used as a base for research and development of space and aerospace technologies.

The curator of the Hong Kong Space Museum, Chan Ki-hung, said it was exciting news for the city.

'I know some Hong Kong scientists have already taken part in the space programme, but I really do not know what they are planning to do here,' Mr Chan said.

The announcement said China planned to be a major player in the international aerospace and space-services industry within seven years.

'By 2015, the CASTC will take up to 10 per cent of the international commercial satellite market and 15 per cent of the world commercial space-launch service market,' an agency communique predicted.

While the announcement was short on details, Ng Tze-chuen, a member of a Polytechnic University-based team of space researchers, believed it referred to plans already under way for the city to take part in a moon mission.

'They came to consult our group about a month ago,' said Dr Ng, a dentist by profession. 'I think they are referring to the collaboration with Polytechnic University.'

His group, which also designed instruments for the ill-fated European Space Agency Mars rover, Beagle 2, was working on instruments for a lunar rover.