Lunar landing program due in 2004
( 2003-12-31 15:47) (Xinhua)
China plans to launch its unmanned lunar landing
program in 2004, with a lunar satellite in 2007, a senior Chinese space
official said Wednesday.
Sun Laiyan, deputy director of the China National Space Administration, said
that according to the three-stage program, the satellite would be followed
by the landing of an unmanned vehicle on the Moon in the second stage by 2010
and collecting samples of lunar soil by 2020 in the final stage.
But he said the last two stages of the program were still under review
by scientists before official approval.
The satellite project was designed to obtain three-dimensional images of the
lunar surface, analyze the content of useful elements and materials on the
surface, and probe the depth of the lunar soil and the space environment between
the Earth and the Moon, said Sun.
China would use its Long March III A launch vehicle to launch the satellite,
which would be based on its Dongfanghong satellite platform, said Sun.
He described the satellite project as an important step for China's
exploration into deeper space, and the Moon would provide a good platform from
which to probe deeper space.
The lunar program is also known as the Chang'e Program, referring to a
goddess who reached the Moon in an ancient Chinese fairy tale.