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US award for China's manned space flight team

The team of China's Shenzhou-7 manned space flight mission, which marked a number of "firsts" for the Chinese space program in a single mission, was rewarded yesterday the 2009 Space Achievement Award from the US Space Foundation.

A delegation from China led by Dr. Zhou Jianping, chief designer of the China Manned Space Program, and Taikonaut Zhai Zhigang accepted the award at the opening ceremony of the 25th National Space Symposium, a Space Foundation-sponsored annual gathering of the global space community, in Colorado Springs.

Dr. Zhou will also participate in the symposium's panel discussion on April 2 where he will discuss China's current and future plans for manned space flight.

"The Shenzhou-7 mission was a significant leap ahead for China's space program," said Elliot Pulham, chief executive officer of the Space Foundation.

"In only its third manned mission, China achieved a half-dozen landmark accomplishments, including the flight of a three-person crew, an impressive first space walk and capabilities for orbital rendezvous and docking. The Shenzhou-7 Mission demonstrated both modern technical capability and the good old-fashioned spirit of exploration."

Zhou said despite all the progress, China is still a newcomer and willing to cooperate with other countries in this field.

Launched on Sept. 25, 2008, Shenzhou-7 was China's third manned space mission and first three-man mission. Taikonaut Zhai performed a 20-minute spacewalk, making China the world's third nation to independently carry out a spacewalk.

The crew conducted a number of experiments, including releasing a miniaturized satellite that took photos and videos near the spacecraft, maneuvered to about 120 miles away and then returned to orbit the spacecraft after the return module had separated and re-entered the atmosphere.

The Space Achievement Award is presented annually to an individual or organization for significant contributions in advancing the exploration, development, or utilization of space.

Previous recipients include the United States Air Force, the Arianespace-CNES Ariane 4 Launch Team, the Hubble Space Telescope Team, NASA/Industry Galileo Space probe team and the International Space Station Team, etc.

Founded in 1983, the Space Foundation is an international nonprofit organization. The 25th National Space Symposium, held from March 30 to April 2, is expected to bring together over 7,500delegates from all sectors of space -- civil, commercial, national security, new space entrepreneurship, and finance, to highlight accomplishments and address opportunities and challenges facing the global space.

Themed The Next Space Age, this year's meeting looks at major shifts in the economies, philosophies, and mechanics of the global space industry.


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