Recently, Luan Enjie, chief commander of China's moon-orbiting project, indicated in Beijing that China would carry out manned probes and establish a base on the moon together with other countries after completion of the unmanned lunar probe.
He said that man's exploration of the moon consists of three stages, "probing, landing and stationing." China's lunar project is at the probing stage, namely the stage of unmanned-craft landing. At present, China's lunar probe project can also be divided into three stages including orbiting, landing and returning. Returning is crucial for bringing objects back to the earth.
According to Luan, the scientific objective of China's lunar probe is to "picture" the earth. The goal of the phase one project currently underway is to launch a satellite orbiting the moon before 2007. The objectives of the lunar probe include obtaining a three-dimensional image of the moon's surface, verifying the content of the 14 elements and the distributive patterns of the moon's surface, and exploring the thickness of the lunar soil and the space environment of the 40,000 to 400,000 kilometers between the earth and the moon.
He believes that such probes might discover helium-3, a type of rare and significant resource that might help solve the problem of resource scarcity on the earth. He also revealed that China is working on technical preparation of an observatory on the moon.
(Chinanews April 5, 2005)