China will send a manned craft into space before 2005 and preparation for a mission to the moon exploration is underway, a senior space official said Thursday in Beijing.
China successfully launched unmanned spaceships "Shenzhou" in 1999 and 2001 respectively.
A leading scientist said several unmanned spaceship projections will be necessary prior to the launch.
"We must be sure that the astronauts are 100 per cent safe in outer space before launching," said Liang Sili, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
Sun Laiyan, vice-director of the China National Space Administration, said the State has forged the objectives of its moon exploration plan but did not go into detail.
China plans to launch three satellites for weather monitoring, oceanic study and earth resource exploration next year.
These are part of the country's five-year (2001-05) blueprint for the space industry.
"China has put the plan for developing the industry on the table," said Sun.
Five-year (2001-2005) plan for space industry
To integrate space industry into world market
Sun said the State will integrate its space industry further into the world market to yield more social and economic returns.
Co-operation between China and the European Union, Russia, developing countries such as Brazil and other space powers will be strengthened as a result.
China will further its co-operation with the EU for progress of the "double star" project.
It is designed to observe and study the global response of the geospace plasma environment to solar activities, interplanetary disturbances and dynamic process in the boundary layer of the magnetopause.
The State has earmarked vast funds for the protection of the space environment and the reduction of space debris resulting from space activities.
Based on the white paper China's Space Activities
Sun addressed more than 100 officials, experts and entrepreneurs with a keynote speech at Thursday's ceremony marking the anniversary of the issuing of the white paper China's Space Activities.
The State Council Information Centre last year issued the white paper in which China outlined the State's achievements in space technology in the past 40 years and the future objectives of the next 10 and 20 years.
"The five year plan is based on the white paper," Sun said.
China should expand application of space technology: scientist
Experts said China should seize the chance to expand its application of space technology.
"For mankind in the 21st century, space application will become as essential as electricity and oil in the 19th century," said Liang Sili, the State's leading space scientist.
"We are just in the first year of the new century and my prophecy will come true."
Liang suggested China should step up its efforts in constructing infrastructure in outer space to facilitate information exchange among different satellites and ground stations.
"I particularly advise the country to develop its own global navigation satellite system, which will benefit the country and the world in many ways," Liang said.
China will meet challenges: official
But an official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was concerned about the challenges China will meet after the State's space industry merges into the world market.
--Arms race in outer space
"I should point out that some powers in the world are on the way to militarizing outer space, not peacefully exploring outer resources," said Huang Huikang, an official from the ministry who has been involved in several acts of space co-operation with foreign countries.
--Commercialization and industrialization
"Another arms race in outer space has begun since 1998 and we should be watchful," Huang said.
Commercialization and industrialization are other challenges facing staff in the industry, which used to be owned by the State.
"So the industry's management strategies should be in line with international rules," Huang said.
Introduction The scope of mankind's activities has experienced expansion from land to ocean, from ocean to atmosphere, and from atmosphere to outer space. Space technology, which emerged in the 1950s, opened up a new era of man's exploration of outer space. Having developed rapidly for about half a century, mankind's space activities have scored remarkable achievements, greatly promoted the development of social productivity and progress, and produced profound and far-reaching effects. Space technology has turned out to be one field of high technology that exerts the most profound influence on modern society. The continuous development and application of space technology has become an important endeavor in the modernization drive of countries all over the world.