Beijing: China on Friday rolled out a red carpet to "Missile man" and ex-President APJ Abdul Kalam on his first visit to the country, proposing a joint collaboration for a space solar power mission with India and inviting him to teach at the prestigious Peking University here. In a surprise move, the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), the official body operating host of China's space missions as well as satellite launches, invited Kalam to its headquarters where he was given a "great reception" by the Chinese scientists.
Besides briefing the 82-year-old Kalam about its recent mission to send three astronauts, including China's first woman to space, CAST officials have shown "great interest" in partnering the mission with international collaboration for Space based Solar Power initiative, said V Ponraj, a scientist who is part of Kalam's delegation.
"Wu Yansheng, President of CAST has said his organization is very much interested to collaborate with India and ISRO on the space mission and would like to establish a formal initiative from both the nations," he said in a statement. "Kalam assured, certainly he will take up this interest to the Govt of India and ISRO, so that a hard cooperation and collaboration between ISRO, DRDO and CAST is realised on one of the great mission, may be Space-based Solar Power initiative so that both India and China can work for long term association with proper funding along with other willing space faring nations to bring space solar power to earth," the statement said.
"Such a mission will be a great example for the entire world and will bring peace and prosperity to the both the nations as well as to the world," it said.
Both sides agreed that this mission will bring synergy between both the nations and also become a role model project for India and China and also to the world to cooperate and collaborate on a societal mission for bringing peace and prosperity for all. The visit to CAST, which currently building its Global Positioning System (GPS) with a string of satellites was a surprise change in Kalam's programme as was initially scheduled to visit China's aeronautical firm.
The delegation was shown the Manned Spacecraft Capsule Experiment Laboratory, one of the three largest space thermo vacuum chambers available in the world. Kalam arrived here on Thursday at the invitation of the reputed Beijing Forum, a government-backed intellectual body. Peking University invited to him to teach with an offer a laboratory of his choice. Kalam appeared happy to receive the offer to teach here but said it all depended on his schedule.
Asked whether he would be visiting Beijing often to teach at the university, 82-year-old Kalam, said, "I am a teacher. I teach in the US and as a Professor wherever the knowledge takes me I go and share it. Particularly I like meeting young people and I would like to contribute to their knowledge."
He was invited to teach once a year, the subject of his choice and stay as long as he wants. The subject could be science and technology or humanities, Kalam's secretary H Sheridon said. The offer included setting up Laboratory of Kalam's choice, he said.
Kalam began his career as an Aerospace engineer and later became India's top guided missile scientist heading the DRDO, which recently has come up with 5,000-km Agni V missile which brought a number of Chinese cities within its range. Kalam said he is interested in teaching sustainable development and praised Peking University's recent move to open ethics department which he said is a "beautiful idea". He is scheduled to formally address students of Peking University on Saturday and interact with the Chinese and Indian professionals at the Indian Embassy here.