VIII-3 Question: China's lunar exploration plans have caught the world's attention recently. How will this project be implemented? When, according to the schedule, will the Chinese be able to land on moon and establish a base there?
A: China's current lunar exploration program is divided into three phases: probing, landing and stationing. In January 2004, the Chinese Government disclosed the "Chang'e Project," specially aimed at a lunar probe, and then launched the first lunar orbiting satellite, "Chang'e No.1". The lunar exploration phase has now begun with a whole-year comprehensive and in-depth probe of the moon, so as to get a three-dimensional image of the surface with which scientists can analyze the elements that comprise the soil and the space between the Earth and the moon. By 2012, the second phase will be initiated by soft landing and automatic scanning across the moon. The last phase will be realized around 2017, when a lunar rover will collect soil and rock samples and take them back to the Earth via spaceship.
This is a tough project facing countless technical problems - difficulties in the areas of capsule openness, space vessels connection, and stronger propelling rocket for spacecrafts are major concerns. China can send people to the moon but cannot ensure them a safe return at present, and so continuous probing and research of the earth's satellite is of essence to solve the technical problems.
After 2024, the project will enter another phase and send a spaceship into outer space by a rocket carrier, which will automatically find an orbit closer to the moon and release a capsule for landing. When the last phase is completed, China will turn to establish a lunar base. China's lunar venture is open to world scientists and experts for cooperative research and joint exploration. China is well aware that the program is not only beneficial to China in the improvement of its national strength and innovative competency, but also to all human beings for the future sci-tech progress of the planet.