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No timetable for manned moon landing
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China currently has no plan to send a man onto the moon, said Sun Laiyan, chief of the China National Space Administration, on Monday.

"I've read reports by foreign media saying that China would carry a manned moon landing in 2020, but I don't think there has been such a plan," Sun told a press conference in Beijing.

"So far, our moon mission only includes unmanned probing projects. The success of the Chang'e-1 project has helped us train a professional team and will support the mission's next aim of landing a rover on the moon," Sun said.

The launch of the orbiter kicks off the first step of China's three-stage moon mission, which will lead to a moon landing and launch of a moon rover at around 2012. In the third phase, another rover will land on the moon and return to earth with lunar soil and stone samples for scientific research at around 2017.

"But I believe one day China will for sure send its own astronauts to land on the moon. I hope I can see it happen," Sun said.

It's not the first time that the Chinese government denied an existing manned moon landing plan.

In October, Luan Enjie, chief commander of China's lunar orbiter project, also told reporters that China has no plan or timetable for a manned moon landing for now.

"A manned moon landing is a project with great difficulties, high risks and huge investments. A wish-list approach is not the way to go about it," Luan said.

"Many factors have to be taken into account to carry out such a project, such as economic budgets, technological level, and whether it is a must for current scientific studies," Luan said.

"So, it's too early to talk about manned landings on the moon for the time being," he added.

(Xinhua News Agency November 28, 2007)

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