China confirms plans for manned moon landing


CHINA HAS declared its intention to land an astronaut on the moon in the first official confirmation of its aim to go where Americans last set foot nearly 40 years ago.

Chinese scientists have discussed the possibility of a manned lunar mission but a white paper published yesterday is the first public government document to enshrine it as a policy goal.

China will “conduct studies on the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing”, it said.

A manned moon mission is still some time off – Chinese experts say after 2020 – but the statement highlights Beijing’s soaring ambitions just five months after the US retired its space shuttle programme.

“Chinese people are the same as people around the world,” Zhang Wei, an official with China’s National Space Administration, said at a briefing. “When looking up at the starry sky, we are full of longing and yearning for the vast universe.”

According to the white paper, which serves as a blueprint for the next five years, China will develop new satellites, accelerate efforts to build a space station and strengthen its research in space.