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Postcards sent from outer space

By Xin Dingding (China Daily)

08:27, December 02, 2011

BEIJING - Think getting a letter from the other side of the globe is cool? Imagine getting one from space.

In a new marketing ploy by China's postal service, people can write letters that will be sent digitally to the Tiangong-1 space lab. From a special e-mail box onboard, the letter will be sent back to Earth and then delivered to the receiver in printed form.

"New media has dealt a heavy blow to the traditional postal service. The number of people writing letters dropped significantly in recent years," Sun Buxin, director of the Haidian district post office in Beijing and executive director of the China Space Post Office, said on Thursday.

"Most letters we handle now are business letters, but even this sector is experiencing a sharp drop," he said.

The solution is to change.

"People now like to go on the Internet and use e-mails and micro blogs to communicate, so we have to combine new media with our resources to provide more individualized services and catch up with the pace of people's change in habits," he said.

The China Space Post Office - the latest of its efforts - was opened on Nov 3 at Beijing Aerospace City and onboard the newly established orbital complex Tiangong-1.

The price of the new service has not yet been announced.

Using its own zip code and post seal, the space post office will print the letters on special paper and will also send designed postmarks into space onboard spacecraft, including Shenzhou IX and Shenzhou X, both slated for launch next year.

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