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China setting up new rocket production base
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) March 4, 2011

China is setting up a new high-tech manufacturing base that will build the rockets for its ambitious space programme to put a man on the moon, state press said Friday.

Twenty of the 22 plants that will make up "the world's largest rocket design, production and testing base" have already been completed at the complex in the northern port city of Tianjin, the Global Times said.

China's Long March IV and V rockets will be designed and built at the 200-hectare (500-acre) complex, the paper said, citing Liang Xiaohong, vice head of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology.

No timetables were given on when the new-generation rockets would be completed.

But with a payload capacity of 25 tonnes, the Long March V would rival the US Delta 4H rocket, Liang said.

"Long March V rockets are designed for missions following the country's manned space programme and lunar exploration programme," Liang was cited as saying.

China launched its second lunar probe on October 1 and hopes to bring a moon rock sample back to Earth in 2017. It has planned a manned mission to the moon for around 2020, according to state media.

China also hopes to complete a manned space station in around 2016, state press reports have said.

China's first space docking, an essential step toward building a space station, is expected to be carried out later this year when two unmanned, but separately launched, space modules link up while orbiting the Earth.

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.


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