China plans 2007 space mission
Updated: 2005-11-04 06:49
China plans to put three men into space within the next two years as it looks
ahead to an orbiting space station and a mission to the moon, domestic media
said on Thursday.
China last month successfully completed its second
manned space mission aboard the Shenzhou VI, and is now developing a series of
new craft up to the Shenzhou X, two Beijing newspapers said.
Astronaut Nie Haisheng (R) talks to
journalists after he and Fei Junlong got out of the re-entry capsule
of the Shenzhou VI spacecaft at the main landing field in Central Inner
Mongolia Autonomous Region October 17, 2005. The two orbited the Earth for
five days in China's second manned space mission which ended up in a
complete success. [Xinhua]
The Shenzhou VII would carry three people and be launched within the next two
years, the Beijing Morning Post said.
But the Shenzhou VIII and IX would only carry equipment for the planned
orbiting space station, the newspaper said, quoting chief rocket designer Liu
Shenzhou X would carry the people who will work in the space station, Liu
told the newspaper, without giving a timeframe for its launch.
But he said once the space station project got under way, Shenzhou VIII, VI
and X could be launched within a month of each other.
"Once one part has gone up, we need to immediately send up the next bit to
connect it, so we'll carry out a series of quick launches in succession," Zhu
China is also designing a rocket that can carry a payload of 25 tonnes into
space, up from a present limit of eight tonnes, the Beijing News said, though it
would unlikely be ready for another six-and-a-half years.
Another objective is to put a man on the moon, but that plan could be
complicated due to China's current inability to land and then recover a craft
from the surface, the report said.
"Though we have already achieved a high level of successful technology,
success does not necessarily mean the technology is mature," the newspaper
quoted another rocket designer, Yang Hong, as saying.
China put its first man in space aboard Shenzhou V in October 2003, giving
China membership in the exclusive club of countries that have put a man into
The former Soviet Union and the United States first sent men into orbit in
China has run its ambitious space program on a relative shoestring.
Domestic media has put the cost of developing the whole Shenzhou program at
about $2.3 billion, a fraction of the $16 billion budget of NASA, the U.S. space
agency, for 2005 alone.