Economy, Sci & Tech

China to Set Up World's Largest Radio Telescope

China to Set Up World's Largest Radio Telescope China to Set Up World's Largest Radio Telescope

China has placed the final piece into position on what will be the world's largest radio telescope, which it will use to explore space and help in the hunt for extraterrestrial life, state media announced.

The 500-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope, or FAST, is the size of 30 football fields and has been hewed out of a mountain in the poor southwestern province of Guizhou.

Scientists will now start testing the telescope, Zheng Xiaonian, the deputy head of National Astronomical Observation affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which built the telescope, told Xinhua.

"The project has the potential to search for more strange objects to better understand the origin of the universe and boost the global hunt for extraterrestrial life," the report paraphrased Zheng as saying.

"The 1.2-billion-yuan ($180 million) radio telescope would be a global leader for the next one to two decades."

The telescope, which has taken about five years to build, is expected to begin operations in September.

Advancing China's space program is a priority for Beijing, with President Xi Jinping calling for the country to establish itself as a space power.

The country's ambitions include putting a man on the moon by 2036 and building a space station, work on which has already begun.

China insists its program is for peaceful purposes, but the US Defense Department has highlighted China's increasing space capabilities, saying it is pursuing activities aimed at preventing adversaries from using space-based assets in a crisis.