China says manned space station possible around 2020
Beijing (AFP) Oct 27, 2010
China said Wednesday that it planned to complete a manned space station around 2020, as the Asian nation pushes ahead with its ambitious space exploration programme.
China's Manned Space Engineering Project announced in a statement that it expected to launch a space laboratory before 2016 to study key technology involved in a space station, such as living conditions for astronauts.
The country would then develop and launch a core cabin and a second laboratory module around 2020, which would be assembled in orbit into a space station, it added.
The station would study technologies involved in long-term manned space flights, the statement said.
China had already announced plans to launch two unmanned modules next year, which are expected to undergo the nation's first space docking -- an essential step towards building the space station.
These steps are all part of the nation's ambitious space exploration programme, which experts say it wants to put on a par with those of the United States and Russia.
China sees the programme as a symbol of its global stature, growing technical expertise, and the Communist Party's success in turning around the fortunes of the formerly poverty-stricken nation.
The nation became only the third in the world to put a man in space independently -- after the United States and Russia -- when Yang Liwei piloted the one-man Shenzhou-5 space mission in 2003.
And in September 2008, the Shenzhou-7, piloted by three astronauts, carried out China's first space walk.
China has also made strides in lunar exploration, aiming to become the second country to put a man on the moon.
It launched its second lunar probe on October 1, hopes to bring a moon rock sample back to Earth in 2017, and has planned a manned mission to the moon for around 2020, according to state media.
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Beijing (AFP) Oct 26, 2010
NASA chief Charles Bolden has said his visit to China last week laid the groundwork for future cooperation between the two countries on manned space flight and space exploration. The head of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, a former astronaut and veteran of four space shuttle missions, wrapped up a five-day trip to China on Thursday that included a tour of a major space ... read more
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