China's spectacular achievements in space are actually a benefit for the entire humankind, Dumitru Prunariu, the first and only Romanian astronaut, told an international conference on Thursday.
Prunariu made the remarks when presenting in detail China's space program and its specific goals to an audience of academics, researchers, diplomats and ambassadors from 20 countries at a conference on "Asia's Century."
China's technological development "culminated in Yang Liwei's successful flight in 2003 into outer space which made China the third country to independently send humans into space," said Prunariu, the 103rd astronaut of the world and a retired general and former ambassador.
"In 2016, a 33-day crewed spaceflight mission proved that China was ready for a long-term space station built and maintained by its own," he said.
As a permanent representative at the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (COPUOS) for 35 years, Prunariu has firsthand information about the space programs of all countries and a comparative view thereupon.
"In 2018, China performed more orbital launches than any other countries on the planet for the first time in history," said Prunariu, describing the scale of China's space program as "impressive" as it includes not only the biggest number of launches and their own space station, where they actually invited all countries to perform scientific experiments, but also crewed expeditions to the Moon, Mars and interplanetary missions to explore the Solar System and beyond.
In 2007, China became the fifth nation to send satellites into orbit. In 2013, China landed Chang'e-3 on the surface of the moon, making it the third country to ever successfully "soft land" on the moon. In 2020, China made a successful lunar sample return mission, marking the completion of China's three-step lunar exploration program of orbiting, landing and bringing back samples, which began in 2004.
"The Chinese are among the most active members, showing interest in peaceful and sustainable cooperation of outer space, with a specific emphasis on the Moon and other celestial bodies," said Prunariu.