2010 moon mission for China
BEIJING, China -- China says it plans to launch its first mission to the moon in 2010 and to establish a base there as part of its burgeoning space program.
"China is expected to complete its first exploration of the moon in 2010 and will establish a base on the moon as we did in the South Pole and the North Pole," the China Daily newspaper quoted Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of China's moon exploration program, as saying on Monday.
China is already training 12 astronauts to prepare for the nation's first manned space mission, which it aims to launch by 2005.
That mission would aim to create a Chinese space station and establish links with international space stations.
The latest targets come as Beijing 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.
Last month, China's Shenzhou III spacecraft successfully completed the nation's third unmanned space mission, state media said.
The Shenzhou III capsule, fitted with dummy astronauts, landed successfully in Inner Mongolia after orbiting the globe 108 times.
China has also launched weather satellites this year as part of a five-year "white paper" space program blueprint.
China first announced a four-step manned space flight blueprint in 1999, which included plans for a space station served by shuttle-style vehicles.
In 2001, in its second unmanned mission, China sent a monkey, a dog, a rabbit and snails into orbit aboard the Shenzhou II.
Scientists did say at the time that more unmanned tests would be necessary.
China has already launched several satellites for U.S. and Brazilian operators and is bidding for a greater share of the satellite launching market.
Beijing has plans to work with Russia and the European Union, with China's official Xinhua news agency saying last year that China would launch moon probes from Long March carrier rockets, in collaboration with the European Space Agency.
China has been looking towards the aerospace technology as a way of making advances in other fields including agriculture, medicine, meteorological studies and telecommunications.
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