December 30, 2011
China Wants to Land an Astronaut on the Moon
By Ed Silverstein, TMCnet Contributor
Each year, many traditional Chinese families gather to view the moon during an occasion known as “the Chinese Moon Festival.” Occurring in autumn, the holiday has been celebrated for thousands of years.
But modern-day China wants to take it a step further and actually send an astronaut to the moon.
In a recent document, China said it will “conduct studies on the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing.” The timing of the mission is expected to be sometime after 2020.
In addition, China is planning to build new satellites, build a space station and work on unmanned lunar flights, according to recent news reports.
In the near term, China wants to take samples of the moon’s surface, according to a report from the Shanghai Daily. In the long term, China may want to explore Mars, the news site added.
“Chinese people are the same as people around the world,” Zhang Wei, who works at China’s National Space Administration, said in a statement quoted by The Financial Times. “When looking up at the starry sky, we are full of longing and yearning for the vast universe.”
China also wants to finish building a space lab by 2016, according to the Financial Times (News - Alert). China has already had two lunar probes, the Chang'e-1, which took place in 2007, and the Chang'e-2, which took place last year, according to the Shanghai Daily.
“The first probe retrieved a great deal of scientific data and a complete map of the moon while the second created a full higher-resolution map of the moon and a high-definition image of Sinus Iridium (News - Alert), the area chosen as a landing site,” The Shanghai Daily added.
In a related matter, China may soon be offering an alternative to the U.S.-operated GPS after starting its own satellite positioning system called Beidou this week, reported TMCnet. Beidou will offer data for navigation, positioning and timing to China and nearby locations, TMCnet added.
Next year, six additional satellites will be launched, and will provide more coverage. By 2020, with 35 satellites in space, the entire planet will be served by Beidou, according to TMCnet.
China claims its work in outer space will be peaceful, said TMCnet. But there are concerns by Taiwan and others that China’s satellite technology could be applied to military uses, TMCnet added.
Ed Silverstein is a TMCnet contributor. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell