China declares plans for mission to the moon
A white paper published on Thursday laid out the country’s five-year plan for the development on new satellites, spacecraft and a space station and provided the official confirmation of China’s lunar ambitions.
The landing is not expected until at least 2020 but under the government’s blueprints “new technological breakthroughs” in human space flight will be achieved by 2016.
The country hopes to complete it first space station in the same year, a goal encouraged by the successful mission to dock two unmanned spacecraft in orbit last month.
“Chinese people are the same as people around the world,” Zhang Wei, an official with China’s National Space Administration, told the Financial Times.
“When looking up at the starry sky, we are full of longing and yearning for the vast universe.”
Two Chinese flights are expected in the 2012, nine years after Yang Liwei became the first “taikonaut” to reach space.
The scale of China’s plans come in stark contrast to those of the United States, the first and only nation to reach the moon in 1969.
George W Bush proposed an American return to the moon but the programme was halted by Barack Obama, citing the enormous cost.