A leading space scientist yesterday said China is quite capable of sending a
manned mission to the moon in 15 years.
Huang Chunping, former commander-in-chief of the launch vehicle system of the
country's manned space mission, said that if the manned lunar project is kicked
off without delay, the goal of landing a Chinese astronaut on the moon can
"surely" be achieved in 15 years.
"Rockets are ladders to space," Huang told Xinhua while attending the annual
session of the country's top political advisory body. "We have full confidence
in the development of China's rocket industry."
October 1996 to the end of 2005, China's Long March rockets made 46 consecutive
successful flights, according to a policy document released last October.
There could be "quite a few" uncertainties and unexpected difficulties on the
country's skyward road, as landing and building a base on the moon and
retrieving spacecraft is a sophisticated process, said Huang, now chief
consultant for China's manned launch vehicle system.
Long Lehao, chief designer of China's carrier rocket series, yesterday said
the country has the capability to send men to the moon in the timeframe
specified by Huang.
Long told China Daily that from the perspective of launch vehicles, the
country will be able to develop powerful carrier rockets needed for a manned
China has not yet unveiled a manned lunar exploration plan. It has started a
three-stage moon exploration project a lunar fly-by some time this year,
followed by a soft landing in 2012 and the return of lunar samples in another
Sun Laiyan, chief of China National Space Administration, said earlier that
scientists could use the moon as a "relay station" from which they could probe
further into deep space.
Both Huang and Long confirmed China could develop a new generation powerful
carrier rocket within seven to eight years, which could blast off a space
Built on a modular design, the launch capacity of such a Long March 5 rocket
will reach 25 tons for orbits about 200 km above the Earth, nearly three times
as much as the Long March 2F used to launch China's manned spacecraft in 2003
and 2005, Long said.
(China Daily 03/07/2007 page1)