China reveals space plans to 2016

2011-12-30 09:29

Beijing - China plans to launch space labs and manned ships and prepare to build space stations over the next five years, according to a plan released on Thursday that shows the country's space programme is gathering momentum.

China has already said its eventual goals are to have a space station and put an astronaut on the moon. It has made methodical progress with its ambitious lunar and human space flight programmes, but its latest five-year plan beginning next year signals an acceleration.

By the end of 2016, China will launch space laboratories, manned spaceship and ship freighters, and make technological preparations for the construction of space stations, according to the white paper setting out China's space progress and future missions.

China's space programme has already made major breakthroughs in a relatively short time, although it lags far behind the United States and Russia in space technology and experience.

The country will continue exploring the moon using probes, start gathering samples of the moon's surface, and "push forward its exploration of planets, asteroids and the sun".

It will use spacecraft to study the properties of black holes and begin monitoring space debris and small near-Earth celestial bodies and build a system to protect spacecraft from debris.

The paper also says China will improve its launch vehicles, improve its communications, broadcasting and meteorological satellites and develop a global satellite navigation system, intended to rival the United States' dominant global positioning system (GPS) network.

China places great emphasis on the development of its space industry, which is seen as a symbol of national prestige.

Its space principles - including peaceful development, enhancing international co-operation and deep space exploration - are largely unchanged from its previous two documents detailing the progress of China's space missions, released in 2000 and 2006.

Third to space walk

In 2003, China became the third country behind the US and Russia to launch a man into space and, five years later, completed a space walk. Toward the end of this year, it demonstrated automated docking between its Shenzhou 8 craft and the Tiangong 1 module, which will form part of a future space laboratory.

In 2007, it launched its first lunar probe, Chang'e-1, which orbited the moon, collecting data and a complete map of the moon.

Since 2006, China's Long March rockets have successfully launched 67 times, sending 79 spacecraft into orbit.

Some elements of China's programme, notably the firing of a ground-based missile into one of its dead satellites four years ago, have alarmed American officials and others who say such moves could set off a race to militarise space.

That the program is run by the military has made the US reluctant to co-operate with China in space, even though the latter insists its programme is purely for peaceful ends.

"China always adheres to the use of outer space for peaceful purposes, and opposes weaponisation or any arms race in outer space," Thursday's white paper states.

The Chinese government's policy is to "reinforce" space co-operation with developing countries and "value" space co-operation with developed countries. The paper lists co-operation between China and countries including Russia, Brazil, France and Britain, and says of the United States: Nasa's director visited China "and the two sides will continue to make dialogue regarding the space field."

  • Mboneli - 2011-12-30 09:52

    It's rare! china is excel when it comes to technology and experience in business they must explore it's moon to other countries and we need that global positiong of network but we dont' want fake.

      Juan - 2011-12-30 10:14


      martin.vandermerwe - 2011-12-30 11:02


      Ruan - 2011-12-30 11:03

      I have to give you credit on your spelling...

      doc.mouton - 2011-12-30 11:11

      Now i'm lost!!

  • colin.dovey - 2011-12-30 09:52

    What a bright future the world could look forward to if ALL Nations on this planet cooperated to explore space. Forget the dividing ideologies...race....power....but remember that deep down, each and every one of us has a dream....however small, and if we join hands, with TRUST....looking outside of our own small minds....into the vastness and depth of space.....we can then find something VERY special to motivate us, and find TRUE JOY within that TINY PERSONAL SPACE...within!

      Emile - 2011-12-30 10:23

      Spot on man if it where not for the 500 years wasted in the dark ages we could be exploring the galaxy by now..........

  • John - 2011-12-30 10:00

    China. First to land people on Mars?

      Juan - 2011-12-30 10:12

      Hopefully it's time for Space Race II. About time Nasa awakes from it's slumber

  • martin.vandermerwe - 2011-12-30 11:01

    Hope they build their space ship better than the rest of the junk they flooding the world with?

  • Trevor Lovell - 2011-12-30 13:19

    It is super cool that they're going into space. To infinity and beyond I say. But, I also hold out for the day when it's announced that we'll make concerted, extended investigations of our hitherto vastly undiscovered oceans. What life's awaits us there!

  • pages:
  • 1