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. China aims for lunar base after 2020

by Staff Writers
Hyderabad, India (AFP) Sept 26, 2007
China plans to set up a lunar base after 2020, capping a series of preparatory robotic missions and a human landing on the moon, a Chinese space official said here Wednesday.

The Chang'e 1 lunar probe is now at the launch site and undergoing final tests ahead of its scheduled launch before the end of 2007, said Ji Wu, director of China's Centre for Space Science and Applied Research.

China's first lunar mission would be followed by robotic missions in subsequent years that would be broadened to landing on the lunar surface and returning to Earth, then a brief human visit, Ji told the international astronautics congress under way in this southern Indian city.

The final stage, after 2020, will be to "stay and live longer term" on the moon and utilise its resources, Ji said.

"As a satellite of the Earth, it is a large platform that never stops and needs no maintenance," Ji said, citing the advantages of exploring the moon.

He also listed the extreme and natural high and low temperatures on the lunar surface that may be used for industrial purposes, and potential energy resources as incentives drawing China to the moon.

In 2003 China successfully launched astronaut Yang Liwei into orbit, becoming the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to put a man in space.

Its space ambitions have continued to grow and China announced in March that it would launch a joint mission with Russia to Mars in 2009.

Japan successfully launched its first lunar orbiter this month and India plans to carry out its own moon mission next year.

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Asian spacefarers race for the moon
Hyderabad, India (AFP) Sept 25, 2007
Asian giants Japan, China and India are engaged in a race to map lunar resources and make the moon a platform to explore planets beyond, amid a renewed burst of global space activity.

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