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China to launch moon exploration mission in 2010
China is dedicated to realizing manned space flights by 2005 and launch its first space exploration of the moon in 2010 and establish a base there, Chinese scientists announced on Saturday.
"China is expected to complete its first exploration of the moon in 2010 and will establish a base on the moon as we did in the South Pole and the North Pole," Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of China's moon exploration programme, said at an exhibition on space technology, part of the ongoing second National Science Week at China Millennium Monument in Beijing, which ends on May 24.
China was already training 12 astronauts to prepare for the nation's first manned space mission, which it aimed to launch by 2005, the scientist said.
China is now engaged in an ambitious project to the moon, having completed two successful trial launches of spacecraft.
The Shenzhou III spacecraft, which wrapped up China's third unmanned mission to outer space in early April, is on display at the exhibition.
The Shenzhou III capsule, fitted with dummy astronauts, landed successfully in Inner Mongolia after orbiting the globe 108 times.
China first announced a four-step manned spaceflight blueprint in 1999, which included plans for a space station served by shuttle-style vehicles.
In 2001, in its second unmanned mission, China sent a monkey, a dog, a rabbit and snails into orbit aboard the Shenzhou II.
To date, China has been carrying out feasibility studies on the moon exploration programme and, theoretically speaking, China is ready to explore the moon, said Ouyang Ziyuan in the lecture about Shenzhou III and China's exploration programme on the moon.
Another two deputy chief designers of Shenzhou III spacecraft revealed a three-step plan of China's first manned spaceflight: Take Chinese astronauts into space; create a space laboratory; and establish China's space station and establish a connection with international space stations.
China is to carry out a manned spaceflight around 2005 if Shenzhou IV unmanned spacecraft makes a successful test flight.
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