Technology

Virginia Physicist Charged With Selling Space Technology Secrets to China

80beatsBy Eliza StricklandSep 25, 2008 6:05 PM

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A physicist in Virginia has been arrested and charged with violating arms control laws by selling rocket technology information to China, which helped the country's burgeoning space program. He has also been charged with bribing a Chinese official to win a contract for a company he represented.

Quan-Sheng Shu, 68, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Shanghai, was arrested Wednesday morning and made an initial appearance that afternoon in U.S. District Court in Norfolk.... Shu appeared to be shaking and bewildered at his court appearance [Virginian-Pilot].

If convicted, Shu faces up to 25 years of jail time. The arrest came at an awkward moment for the Chinese government, which spent today celebrating the successful launch of the Shenzhou 7 spacecraft carrying a full crew of three astronauts, one of whom will perform China's first space walk in the coming days. While the technological data that Shu allegedly sold wasn't used in the rocket that launched the Shenzhou 7, the juxtaposition of events undercuts the message the Chinese government hoped to broadcast today: that the country has come into its own as a mature, space-faring nation, and that it needs no outside assistance to achieve its goals. Shu is president of a Virginia-based company called AMAC International, which maintains a branch office in Beijing.

According to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday, Shu sold technology to China for development of hydrogen-propelled rockets. The Chinese government is developing a space launch facility in the southern island province of Hainan that will house liquid-propelled launch vehicles designed to send space stations and satellites into orbit [AP].

The U.S. Justice Department says the Hainan facility will also provide support for future manned missions and lunar expeditions.

He specifically is accused of providing technical expertise and foreign technology in the fields of cryogenic pumps, valves, transfer lines and refrigeration equipment, components critical for use of liquefied hydrogen in a launch facility. Shu also is accused of offering bribes to Chinese government officials to win the award of a hydrogen liquefier project to a French company that Shu represented, a contract valued at about $4 million, department officials said [Reuters].

Image: flickr/cogdogblog

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