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China plans moon landing

The launch of China's unmanned Shenzou II took China a step closer to sending a human into space
The launch of China's unmanned Shenzou II took China a step closer to sending a human into space  

By Andrew Demaria
CNN Hong Kong

BEIJING, China (CNN) -- China is planning to send a man to the moon as part of its developing space program.

China has yet to send a manned craft into space but plans to do so by 2005, the state-run China Daily newspaper reported on Friday.

The mission is part of Beijing’s plans to create a space industry and earn the prestige of joining the United States and Russia as the only nations to have sent humans into space.

China first launched a satellite in 1970. In 1999 and January 2001 it successfully launched the "Shenzou" unmanned spacecraft.

A monkey, a dog, a rabbit and snails were sent into orbit aboard the second Shenzou launch but scientists say that more unmanned tests will be necessary.

"We must be sure that the astronauts are 100 percent safe in outer space after launching," said Liang Sili of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in the newspaper report.

Space blueprint

The China Daily reported that Beijing plans to launch three further satellites for weather monitoring, oceanic study and earth resource exploration in 2002 as part of a five-year "white paper" space program blueprint.

Sun Laiyan, vice director of the China National Space Administration, declined to give any details of the moon exploration plan other than that it was part of China's space industry plans.

"China has put the plan for developing the industry on the table," the China Daily quoted Sun as saying.

China has already launched several satellites for U.S. and Brazilian operators and is vying for a greater share of the satellite launching market.

To date, it has launched almost 50 satellites with a 90 percent success rate. The launch of 30 more are planned in the next five years, the state-run Xinhua news agency has reported.


China's space program will involve further cooperation with Russia and the European Union, Sun said.

In collaboration with the European Space Agency Part, China will launch moon probes from Long March carrier rockets, the official Xinhua news agency said.

China has been looking towards aerospace technology as a way of making advances in other fields including agriculture, medicine, meteorological studies and telecommunications.

"For mankind in the 21st century, space applications will become as essential as electricity and oil in the 19th century," Liang told the China Daily.

However, China was also wary of the increasing use of space for military applications.

"I should point out that some powers in the world are on the way to militarizing outer space, not peacefully exploring outer resources," Huang Huikang, an official from China's foreign ministry, told the China Daily.

"Another arms race in outer space has begun since 1998 and we should be watchful," Huang said.


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