China is dedicated to realizing manned space flights by 2005 and launch its first space exploration of the moon in 2010, Chinese scientists announced on Saturday.
The scientists, in charge of China's moon exploration program and designing Shenzhou III spacecraft, made the announcement at an exhibition on space technology, part of the ongoing second National Science Week at China Millennium Monument in Beijing, which ends on May 24.
The theme of the week-long event - co-hosted by the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the China Science and Technology Association - is "Science and Technology Create the Future."
A prominent exhibition is on future space exploration.
China is now engaged in an ambitious project to the moon, having completed two successful trial launches of spacecraft.
The Shenzhou III spacecraft, which wrapped up its mission to outer space in early April, is on display at the exhibition.
To date, China has been carrying out feasibility studies on the moon exploration program and, theoretically speaking, China is ready to explore the moon, said Ouyang Ziyuan, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and chief scientist of China's moon exploration program, in a lecture about Shenzhou III and China's exploration program on the moon.
"China is expected to complete its first exploration of the moon in 2010 and will establish a base on the moon as we did in the South Pole and the North Pole," said Ouyang.
Another two deputy chief designers of Shenzhou III spacecraft revealed a three-step plan of China's first manned spaceflight: Take Chinese astronauts into space; create a space laboratory; and set up China's space station and establish a connection with international space stations.
They revealed 12 astronauts, who passed a rigid selection process to become the country's first generation of astronauts, are currently receiving intensive training.
China is to carry out a manned spaceflight around 2005 if Shenzhou IV spacecraft makes a successful test flight.
The exhibition also includes some experimental samples taken by the spacecraft from outer space, which can be touched by visitors.
Visitors to the exhibition are said to have fun while increasing their scientific knowledge.
The government named the third week of May as the annual National Science Week last year, aiming to develop nationwide activities to publicize science and technology among the masses.
(China Daily May 20, 2002)