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Moon probe eyes private funding
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China will open part of the country's second-stage moon mission projects for public tender, to attract participation of competent institutions and enterprises in the moon program, said a spokesman with the China National Space Administration (CNSA) Wednesday.

"They could include scientific research organs, universities and also private companies", Li Guoping, the spokesman for the CNSA, told a press conference.

China Wednesday successfully sent its first lunar probe into the final working orbit, where it stay for one-year.

"With the expansion of China's space explorations, we'd like to encourage private enterprises to join the space technology development and attract public funds into the aerospace-related research, manufacture and trade," Li said.

"For sure, private companies should be qualified, especially in technological and managerial capabilities, in order to participate in the space technology development," Li added.

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.

(Xinhua News Agency November 8, 2007)

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