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People's Daily Online>>Science & Education

Mars probe fuel 'not a threat' (3)

By Xin Dingding  (China Daily)

08:19, November 18, 2011

"This is a concern shared by space-faring countries, including China, and efforts must be made together to control the growth of space debris," he said.

With a growing space presence - 20 satellites launched in 2010 and at least 20 space launches planned this year - China is doing its share to take measures to tackle the problem, he said.

The government has allocated special funds to examine space debris, set up models and envision possible scenarios, he said.

China, for instance, has ensured that any remaining fuel in derelict orbiting launch vehicles has been vented out to avoid explosions and their orbits have been lowered to allow them to re-enter sooner, he said.

Since 2000, no upper stages of launch vehicles from China have exploded in space, he said.

In orbit 35,786 km above the Earth's surface, where communication satellites are positioned, China has elevated the altitudes of its three defunct satellites to spare precious resources and avoid interrupting other communication satellites in orbit, he said.

As for low Earth orbits, where debris concentrates, satellite designers are researching measures to prevent derelict satellites from exploding, including cutting circuits on board and venting out remaining fuel and gas, he said.

China also realizes that cleaning up space debris is, and will be, a major issue.

In a program funded by the government, researchers are doing concept studies of "space tugs" to pull retired satellites out of orbit, he added.

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helen at 2011-11-18141.0.9.*
China will have to rely on its own research and efforts to launch its Mars space craft. Nothing like self reliance to smooth out contradictions.

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