A senior Chinese space agency official said Wednesday that China would actively plan its deep space exploration in the next five years, focusing on lunar and Mars exploration and including international cooperation.
Sun Laiyan, administrator of the China National Space Administration, said China would study the distribution and utilization of lunar resources, and terrestrial planetary science, particularly the Earth-Moon system, as well as provide a scientific basis and measures for supporting mankind's sustainable survival and development on Earth.
Key research areas also included astronomy and solar physics, space physics and solar system exploration, micro-gravity sciences and space life science.
Sun urged Chinese scientists to increase their understanding of star and universe evolution through the observation and study of the sun and black holes.
In the next five years, Sun said, China would independently develop and launch an astronomical satellite.
China would advance its exploration of the integral behavior of the chain reaction of solar-terrestrial space, establish a space weather forecast pattern on which a weather support system for space flight safety and communication would be based, he told the 36th Scientific Assembly of the Committee on Space Research.
During the 11th Five-Year (2006-2010) Plan period, research into micro-gravity science would be coordinated with national scientific and technological strategic objectives and key issues for manned space flight.
This would promote the development of high technology for biological engineering and new materials and basic research on gravity theory and life science.
Chinese scientists had already conducted space experiments in astronomy, environment, microgravity fluid physics, material science, life science and earth science. From 2001 to 2004, they successfully conducted the Double Star Program in space physics and environment.
After 40 years of indigenous effort, Chinese scientists had established the disciplines of space physics, space environment, space astronomy, planet exploration, micro-gravity and space biotechnology. It is estimated that in the past decade, China's space science investment, including infrastructure and programs, had exceeded 900 million yuan (US$112.5 million).
The National High-Tech Research and Development Program initiated in the mid 1980s and the Manned Spaceflight Program begun in 1992 substantially promoted the development of China's space research.
(Xinhua News Agency July 19, 2006)