China issues white paper on space exploration

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The Chinese government on Thursday issued a white paper, titled "China's Space Activities in 2011", highlighting the development of space industry since 2006 and the major tasks for the next five years.

The graphic shows the schematic image of Chinese space station. [Xinhua photo]

The graphic shows the schematic image of Chinese space station. [Xinhua photo]

It was the third white paper on the country's space activities issued by the State Council Information Office. The previous two were issued in 2000 and 2006 respectively.

China has made the space industry an important part of the nation's overall development strategy and adhered to exploration and utilization of outer space for peaceful purposes, according to the white paper.

Over the past few years, China has ranked among the world's leading countries in certain major areas of space technology, it said, adding that in the next five years, there will be new opportunities to the country's space industry.

At the same time, China will work together with the international community to maintain a peaceful and clean outer space and endeavor to make new contributions to promoting world peace and development, the document said.

Future missions

Major tasks listed in the white paper for the next five years include space transportation system, Earth satellites, human spaceflights and deep-space exploration.

The country will launch the Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spaceships and achieve unmanned or manned rendezvous and docking with the in-orbit Tiangong-1 vehicle, the paper said.

China also plans to launch space laboratories, manned spaceship and space freighters, and will start a research on the preliminary plan for a human landing on the moon, the document said.

As an important part of deep-space exploration, the country's lunar probe projects follow the idea of "three steps" -- orbiting, landing and returning.

In next five years, the country plans to launch orbiters for lunar soft landing, roving and surveying to implement the second stage of lunar exploration, then it will start the third-stage project of sampling the moon's surface matters and get those samples back to Earth, the white paper said.

In addition, China will build a space infrastructure frame composed of Earth observation satellites, communications and broadcasting satellites, plus navigation and positioning satellites.

Major progress

According to the white paper, breakthroughs have been made in major space projects, including human spaceflight and lunar exploration, since 2006.

From Sept. 25 to 28, 2008, China successfully launched the Shenzhou-7 manned spaceship and became the third country in the world to master the key technology of astronaut space extravehicular activity.

In November 2011, China accomplished the first unmanned space rendezvous and docking test between the Tiangong-1 space lab module and Shenzhou-8 spaceship.

In addition, the country's lunar probe projects have achieved milestone breakthroughs over the past five years. China successfully launched two lunar probes, the Chang'e-1 on Oct. 24, 2007, and Chang'e-2 on Oct. 1, 2010.

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.


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