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China to accept private funding for lunar missions

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Nov 8, 2007
China will accept private investment to help put a man and a rover on the moon, seeking outside funding for its expanding space ambitions, state media said Thursday.

The funding opportunities will be open to "competent institutions and enterprises," the Shanghai Daily quoted a spokesman for the China National Space Administration as saying.

"They could include scientific research organs, universities and also private companies," spokesman Li Guoping said.

In 2003, China sent Yang Liwei into orbit, becoming only the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to put a man in space.

This week, the country's first moon orbiter -- Chang'e I -- moved into position for a year-long mission to map the lunar surface.

Beijing plans to drop a lunar rover onto the moon's surface by around 2012 and may also carry out a manned landing by 2020.

Other plans, which have yet to be approved by the government, include an eventual Mars mission.

"With the expansion of China's space explorations, we'd like to encourage private enterprises to join the space technology development and attract public funds for aerospace-related research, manufacture and trade," Li said.

It was not immediately clear how private contributors would achieve a return on their investments.

Earlier this week a top official with China's space-related programme said it hoped to have a space station orbiting the Earth, possibly by 2020.

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China Denies Timetable For Space Station
Beijing (XNA) Nov 08, 2007
China hasn't set any specific timetable for the development of a space station, a spokesman with China National Space Administration (CNSA) said here Wednesday. "According to the national outline for mid- and long-term scientific and technological development, and the outline for space technology development during the 11th-five-year period (2006-2010) issued by the State Council on May 10 this year, China will focus on manned space flight and lunar exploration in the near future," Li Guoping, the CNSA spokesman, told a press conference.

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