China has no plans yet for manned lunar exploration

10:53, March 08, 2011      

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China has not yet scheduled a manned lunar landing, said Wang Yongzhi, the chief designer of China's manned space program, in an interview with China Youth Daily on March 6.

This is a correction to an earlier media report that China would possibly plan the manned lunar landing within the next 20 years.

Yet, China's space sector has accomplished remarkable achievements, from the Shenzhou and Chang'e spacecraft to the manned space station. The launch of the Chang'e-1 lunar probe in October 2007 has set the first milestone for China's moon probe program. And the unmanned lunar probe project is underway now.

China will realize a lunar landing in the long run for sure, Wang said. However, the manned moon exploration project is still under the preliminary research by experts, which means it is still too early to make a national plan.

Wang assessed China's space sector as the third or fourth in world competition at the current stage, following the United States and Russia. However strong it might be, China should always be cautious and conservative toward its top-ranking position, given the sub-sector comparative advantages from countries listed behind China. For instance, Japan is strong in terms of manned spaceflight, and India has a cutting edge moon probe program.

And Wang indicated his satisfaction with the aerospace industry's current talent pool, and he expects the younger generation to be fully capable of taking over in the future. He speculates that this has resulted from the competitive decent payment offered by the major domestic enterprises within the industry, and the intellectual community's great commitment to aerospace undertakings.

Wang is also a Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) member, and a scholar of Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE).

By Li Yancheng, People's Daily Online
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