China plans to launch an explorer to the Moon as early as in three years time. The Beijing Youth Daily newspaper reports that the Chang'e lunar probe will probably take a three-phase journey to the Moon, which is 380 thousand kilometers from earth.
Named after a mythical lady who flew to the Moon for a lonely but peaceful and harmonious life, Chang'e will travel for less than week, before its lunar orbiting mission.
China plans to conduct experiments related to a moon landing, said a senior science official Sunday.
"China will continue to develop its space exploration plans. At a future time, China will carry out lunar landing and flight experiments," Wang Shuquan, deputy secretary of the Commission for Science, Technology and Industry for National Defence, was quoted as saying.
The report on the website of China News service said Wang had mentioned China's plans to put a man in space, but gave no details such as the exact date of the launch.
China is expected in the next few days to become only the third country to put a person into orbit after the former Soviet Union and the United States.
China's long-term space plans are expected to include an unmanned probe to the moon, followed by a manned lunar mission, experts have said.
(People's Daily October 6, 2003)