VIENNA: China announced that all member states of the United Nations are welcome to cooperate with China to jointly utilize its future China Space Station (CSS).
"CSS belongs not only to China, but also to the world," said Shi Zhongjun , China's ambassador to UN and other international organizations in Vienna.
"All countries, regardless of their size and level of development, can participate in the cooperation on an equal footing," he said.
Interested public and private organizations, including institutes, academies, universities and private enterprises with scientific orientations, can identify their appropriate models of cooperation on board CSS, may it be the growth of a space plant, or even the accommodation of an astronaut, said the ambassador.
CSS, expected to be launched by 2019, and complete and brought into operation by 2022, will be the world's first space station that is developed by a developing country and open for cooperation with all UN member states.
Consisting of one core module and two experiment modules, CSS will have the capacity to accommodate up to three astronauts at the same time and maximum six during rotation.
Operating in low-Earth orbit about 400 kilometers above the Earth's surface, CSS will be used in a wide range of research fields, including space medicine, life science, biotechnology, microgravity science, Earth science and space technology.
"Through the vehicle of CSS, we would like to build up a model of sincere mutual beneficial cooperation among countries in the peaceful exploration and use of outer space," said the Chinese ambassador.
As a developing country itself, China stands ready to help other developing countries in their development of space technology and space capacity building in particular, he said.
Guided by the idea of a shared future for mankind, CSS will be a home that is inclusive and open, a home of peace and goodwill, and a home of cooperation for mutual benefit, he added.
Priyani Wijesekera, ambassador of Sri lanka to the UN in Vienna, believes that CSS would benefit developing states like Sri lanka which lacks financial means and expertise to launch such a project.
"It's very interesting and we are looking forward to cooperating with China," she told Xinhua.
Simonetta Di Pippo, director of the UN Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) welcomed China's move to share its "state of the art space program" which is "one of the most holistic and technologically advanced in the world."
"With the global challenges we all face here on Earth, it is therefore important to foster collaboration and cooperation in the field of space activities," she said.
The director said technical advances in space have broader benefits to all humankind, as space is a driver and a tool for socio-economic sustainable development.
In 2016, the United Nations, represented by UNOOSA, confirmed its partnership with the China Manned Space Agency (CMSA) by signing a Memorandum of Understanding to allow "Access to Space" to all UN member states, developing countries in particular, to address all 17 Sustainable Development Goals by jointly utilizing CSS.
Following Monday's announcement, the UNOOSA has extended official letters to all Permanent Missions in Vienna and New York as well as offices of the United Nations Development Program, kicking off a three-month application period for public organizations, industries and private sector organizations with scientific orientation.
"By working together, the sky is no longer the limit," said Di Pippo.
"I believe that all the efforts that we are making together will be highly beneficial to our cooperation, to all Member States of the United Nations, and to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals," she said.
China's exploration into outer space has been at the core of global attention since the launch of the first Chinese satellite in 1970. The planned launch of CSS next year follows the launch of space laboratory, Tiangong-1, in 2011.
China has been consistent in its peaceful commitment to the outer space. Yang Liwei, China's first "taikonaut", exhibited the UN flag to the whole world on China's first space safari in 2003, followed by 10 more Chinese in his footsteps making trips into the outer space.
The core module of CSS is named Tianhe, or "Harmony of the Heavens" in the Chinese language, which conveys China's hope to promote mutual trust and peace through cooperation aboard CSS.
Maria Assunta Accili Sabbatini, Italy's ambassador to the UN in Vienna, said the project offers a great opportunity for Italy as the two countries' space agencies have maintained close ties.
"We believe this opens a lot of room for cooperation," she said. —Xinhua