Ten astronauts from six countries have gathered in Beijing to share with Chinese scientists and students their experiences in space and views of moon exploration.
They are attending the 16th Human in Space Symposium of International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) in the capital, together with some 200 international astronautics scientists and experts.
"There are many beautiful tales about the moon in Chinese literature. It carries a special significance for us," said Yang Liwei, China's first astronaut, in an interactive panel meeting with students.
"Building a lunar base can not only expand our knowledge about the moon, but mark a crucial step to realize a flight to Mars or farther planets."
Since US astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin touched down on the lunar surface in 1969, 12 have successfully landed on the moon.
China announced a moon exploration program four years ago, and plans to launch an orbiter by the end of this year.
Leroy Chiao, the first American-Chinese mission commander to the International Space Station, added that international cooperation, including China, would be the best solution to explore the moon.
"I hope the (international) climate will improve (in this respect), and the US and China can develop a cooperative relationship with each other (in space exploration)," Chiao said.
Most of these astronauts also talked online with Chinese Internet surfers or face to face with high school students yesterday afternoon.
Expected to conclude on May 24, the ongoing symposium is discussing a wide range of topics related to space flight.
(China Daily May 22, 2007)