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 (ALVT), producer of China's Long March carrier rockets.
Shaolin abbot Shi Yongxin, in a brown robe, led the delegation to explore the use of rocket technologies to protect the ancient books in the temple, which has a history of about 1,500 years and is listed as a world cultural heritage site.
The ALVT has developed an advanced book protection system based on aerospace technologies.
This drew the interest of the Shaolin monks who reportedly have many paper books damaged by pests and mildew. Located in the mountains of central China's Henan Province, the environment is humid in summer and cold and dry in winter, and has a huge number of visitors every year. These conditions are unfavorable for the protection of ancient books.
The main part of the ALVT protection system a sealed, waterproof, fireproof and insect-proof box.
Fan Xinzhong, director of the structure office of ALVT's department of tactical weapons, who is responsible for the design, said the box combined advanced aerospace technologies, such as rocket heat insulation, the honeycomb sandwich structure of the rocket fairing and the composite material used in the spacecraft capsule.
Fellow researcher Shan Yijiao said the heat insulation material can keep the temperature inside the box below 60 degrees centigrade for an hour in a fire. And the honeycomb sandwich structure enables the box to resist impacts and compression, and to float in water.
Lei Bao, designer of the box door lock, said they also borrowed spacecraft sealing technology to make the box 100-percent waterproof and dustproof.
Worms and insects cannot live inside the box with little oxygen. And the humidity can be controlled through a monitoring system to prevent bacteria and mildew.
ALVT is planning systems for more libraries, museums, archives and temples to help protect cultural relics on Earth by using technologies gained from reaching for the stars.