It was a strange sight: a group of monks from the Shaolin Temple, the cradle of Chinese kung fu, walking through the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, producer of China's Long March carrier rockets.
The abbot, Shi Yongxin, wearing a brown robe, led the delegation to explore the use of rocket technologies to protect the ancient books in the temple, whose history spans about 1,500 years. It is listed as a world cultural heritage site.
The academy has developed an advanced book protection system based on aerospace technologiesround ass.
This drew the interest of the Shaolin monks, who have many paper books that have been damaged by pests and mildew. The temple is located in the mountains of Henan province, where the environment is humid in summer and cold and dry in winter. It draws a large number of visitors every year. The combination of those conditions is unfavorable to the protection of books.
At the center of the protection system is a sealed, waterproof, fireproof and insect-proof box.
Fan Xinzhong, director of the structure office of the academy's department of tactical weapons, is responsible for the design. The box, Fan said, combines advanced aerospace technolog[MG_SEO]ies, such as rocket heat insulation, a honeycomb sandwich structure of a rocket fairing and the composite material used in a space capsule.
Fellow researcher Shan Yijiao said the heat insulation material can keep the temperature inside the box below 60 C for an hour in a fire. The honeycomb sandwich structure enables the box to resist impact and compression, and to float on water.
Lei Bao, designer of the box's lock, said spacecraft sealing technology was borrowed to make the box 100-percent waterproof and dustproof.
Worms and insects cannot live inside the box, which has little oxygen. Humidity can be controlled through a monitoring system to prevent the growth of bacteria and mildew.
The China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology is planning systems for more libraries, museums, archives and temples to help protect cultural relics by using technologies gained from reaching for the stars.