China Opens World’s Largest Radio Telescope FAST to Foreign Talent, Displaces US Arebico Observatory


by Demond Cureton

The world’s largest radio telescope has opened its doors to the world, despite Washington’s ongoing trade war, and has become a symbol of China’s rising tech supremacy.

China’s Five-hundred-mete Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) is set to open its doors to foreign astronomers in a bid to attract top talent from around the world.

Located in Pingtang, Guizhou, Southwest China, FAST is the world’s largest radio telescope and has placed China ahead of competitors in the race to become the world’s tech capital.

The device is three times more sensitive than US equivalents and covers the area of 30 football pitches, costing its builders $175m (1.1bn yuan). Construction on the 500-metre device began in 2011 and opened for operations in January this year.

“We drew a lot of inspiration from its structure, which we gradually improved to build our telescope,” Wang Qiming, chief inspector of FAST’s operations and development centre, told AFP in a statement.

— Cecilia Joy Pérez (@ceci_joy) December 12, 2020

The news comes after the US-owned Arebico Observatory in Puerto Rico was destroyed after its 900-tonne receiver platform broke and fell 140 metres into its radio dish this month, destroying the device.

China pledged $1.4tn into building tech self-reliance via its Made in China 2025 and 2027 military programmes, namely after the Trump administration blacklisted dozens of its mainland tech firms, including Huawei Technologies, ZTE Corp and Shanghai-based chipmaker SMIC, among others, sparking an acrimonious tech race.



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