Interview: The safe return of a Chinese spacecraft by Moon provides an example of great scientific achievement, says Egyptian space agency chief

by Mahmoud Fouly

CAIRO, Dec. 19 (Xinhua) – The recent safe return of China’s Chang’e 5 lunar survey to Earth, carrying the world’s newest lunar samples in 40 years, is considered a “achievement scientific giant ”in both China and space science, said the Head of the Egyptian Space Agency (EgSA).

“China deserved to fly its flag on the Moon as a reward for accomplishing such a great scientific mission,” EgSA leader Mohamed El-Koosy told Xinhua in a recent interview.

On Thursday, the Chang’e-5 mission returned to Earth with rock and earth samples collected from the Moon, the first batch in 44 years since the 1976 Soviet study of Luna 24.

“The event is significant because no successful efforts have been made to get lunar rock samples back to Earth over the past 40 years, when many countries have tried and failed,” El-Koosy said.

He explained that the “spaceship” of the Chinese spacecraft on the Moon, staying there for two days and returning safely was not an easy scientific task.

“The journey itself, which covered a distance of around 400,000 km, was also a very difficult mission that required such a high level of control,” he said.

“The consensus in the world is that China has undoubtedly become a major place power,” El-Koosy said.

He noted that this is not the first successful aerospace activity in China, citing the country’s previous success in putting multifunction satellites into orbit.

He also praised the work of China’s National Space Administration which has led to such achievements.

El-Koosy, who has visited Beijing several times, commented on the ongoing cooperation between Egypt and China in aerospace, putting it into a prestigious relationship between the two countries.

“As a result of the strong relationship China has agreed a grant to Egypt in the field of space technology, through which it is helping Egypt to build a center for satellite assembly,” El-Koosy told Xinhua.

China has already sent Egypt all the necessary equipment for the construction of the Satellite Assembly, Integration and Test Center of Egypt, which will be completed in mid-2021, according to El-Koosy.

“After the construction, Chinese experts will come to install and operate the machines, and train the Egyptian cadets,” he explained.

In January 2019, China agreed a grant to help build Egypt’s “MisrSat II” remote sensing satellite which began its implementation phase eight months later.

El-Koosy noted that the joint projects in the construction of the collection center and the remote sensing satellite are being carried out at the same time, with the expectation that the satellite will be assembled in the center after its completion and then launched via a Chinese launcher in September 2022. Enditem