When can China realize manned moon landing? Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of China's moon probing project and academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, indicated that at present, the United States and the European Space Agency plan to make a moon landing in 2018 and 2023 respectively, while China will not implement its manned moon landing test and joint lunar base construction with related countries until 2017.
Prof. Ouyang said that the Chang'e I lunar orbiting satellite will be launched next year. The audience can watch the launch on TV within 10 to 20 minutes, and observation statistics will be immediately sent to nationwide important departments.
This satellite will be used to acquire three-dimensional images of the moon, analyze characteristics of distribution of elements on lunar surface, detect the thickness of lunar soil and explore space environment between the earth and the moon. As exploring the thickness of lunar soil is an original idea of China, many foreign experts have consulted about the implementation of such a task.
Prof. Ouyang revealed that 10 countries including the US, Russia and Ukraine have instituted a plan to revisit the moon by now. When can Chinese astronauts land on the moon? "At present, we are still working on the initial planning of the moon probing project, which includes probing, landing and stationing; all are unmanned programs. During the second phase, China will strive to achieve the overall scientific goal of soft landing on the moon as well as inspection and exploration by a moon rover. The third step will serve to provide statistics for the follow-up manned moon probing and lunar base site selection.
(Chinanews April 18, 2006)