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Shoot for the moon
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09:36, August 17, 2007

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 General plan of China's phase II lunar exploration program completed
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In a rare online discussion held yesterday, curious Internet surfers poured in questions of all kinds to scientists and engineers who are core members of the country's moon probe mission.

The netizens' enthusiasm reflected the expectations of a nation for this exciting lunar exploration project.

And their close interaction with top-notch scientists can only boost their general level of interest in space and science.

Although the final launch date has yet to be specified, it seems likely to be soon, as concerned authorities said earlier this month that the lunar orbiter, Chang'e I, and the carrier rocket, a Long March 3-A, have both passed testing and are ready for launch.

The ambitious three-stage plan, which includes putting astronauts on the moon within 15 years, is one of 16 long and mid-term national projects involving science and technology development. And it marks a significant step forward in the country's space technology.

Initiated in January 2004, the moon exploration project is regarded as the third milestone in the country's space technology ventures after the successful launch of satellites and manned spacecraft projects.

Using 100 percent domestic technology, the project is the result of hard work and creativity of Chinese space scientists and engineers.

Only a few countries in the world have demonstrated their ability or have the potential to explore the moon. And like those of other countries, China's moon probe mission bears witness to its strength and progress in the field of science and technology.

The Chinese have a longstanding dream for moon exploration. Our first lunar obitor, Chang'e I, is named after a heroin who flew to the moon and became the Goddess there in a classical myth. Numerous literary works have lauded the beauty of the moon and its inspiration to mankind.

As pointed out by one of the scientists at yesterday's online briefing, the lunar program will enable mankind to understand more about the origins and evolution of the moon, the Earth and the solar system. And, in turn, that will help us know more about ourselves.

The government has long made it clear the moon mission, like its other space projects, is independent and solely for the purpose of the peaceful use of space.

It is also hoped it will provide a clearer understanding of the resources on the moon and contribute to the sustainable development of all mankind.

Source: China Daily

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