China's space officials said Tuesday that the building of the country's first lunar satellite was entering its final assembly and testing stage, confirming that major progress has been made since the satellite project was approved two and a half years ago.
Hao Xifan, deputy director of the Lunar Exploration Center of the Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defense, said the country's first lunar satellite project has been progressing smoothly.
The satellite, which is based on China's Dongfanghong III telecommunication satellite platform, boasts seven types of scientific exploration instruments, including a CCD camera, a high-energy particle detector, a laser height gauge and a micro-wave detector.
The satellite project was approved by the Chinese Government in 2004 with 1.4 billion yuan (about 170 million US dollars) in funding.
The Chinese space agency has said the satellite, which is expected to be launched next year, would obtain three-dimensional images of the lunar surface, analyze the content of relevant elements and materials, verify the depth of the lunar soil and study the space environment between the earth and the moon.
The satellite project is part of the country's ambitious three-stage lunar program. The second stage involves landing an unmanned vehicle on the moon by 2010, and the third stage the collection of lunar soil samples with an unmanned vehicle by 2020.
The program is named the Chang'e Program, referring to a goddess who flew to the moon in an ancient Chinese fairy tale.
Sun Laiyan, director of the China National Space Administration, said earlier on Tuesday that China's lunar exploration activities were designed to improve its independent innovative capabilities, and further promote its scientific and technological level for social development.
China has consistently advocated lunar and outer space exploration for peaceful purposes, and peaceful use of both lunar and outer space resources to benefit mankind, he told the 8th International Lunar Exploration Working Group Conference in Beijing.
Sun said other countries are welcome to cooperate in China's lunar exploration project on the basis of mutual benefits and equality.
Space experts from the United States, the European Space Agency, Italy, Japan and India talked about their lunar probe programs at the three-day conference, which started Tuesday.