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China able to send man to moon in 2020: expert
Updated: 2009-03-10 23:06

BEIJING -- A Chinese astronautics professor said Tuesday the country is capable of sending astronauts to moon around 2020.

"The key technology problem is the 'returning'", said Xu Shijie, a professor from Beihang University (previously Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics), explaining that the country's three-stage moon mission could be defined as "orbiting", "landing" and "returning".

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Chang'e I ends lunar mission with a bang

The third stage will last from 2017 to 2020, during which China will launch recoverable moon rovers.

Many countries, including China, target to sending astronauts to the moon, said Xu, member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), who is in Beijing attending the annual sessions of the political advisory body.

China's moon mission timetable was revealed as the country concluded the first phase of its three-stage moon mission with a controlled impact of Chang'e I on the moon on March 1.

China plans to land Chang'e III on the moon at latest in 2013, Ye Peijian, chief designer of Chang'e I, the country's first moon probe, said on Monday.

The mission of Chang'e III is to make soft landing and probe the moon, said Ye, a CPPCC national committee member.

Before the mission, Chang'e II will be launched at the latest in 2011 to test key technologies of soft landing and lower technical risks, he said.

Chang'e IV will also be launched during the second phase, which will be concluded before 2017.

China's space program claimed a new landmark with its first space walk last year.