Subscribe free to our newsletters via your
. 24/7 Space News .

China tools up for Asian space race
by Staff Writers
Hong Kong (AFP) July 12, 2009

Forty years after the United States landed a man on the moon, China's fledgling space programme is racing to get to the lunar surface before an American return and ahead of its Asian rivals.

The United States -- the only country to have sent men to the moon -- is hoping to touch down on the lunar surface again by 2020, almost a generation after it first completed six historic manned lunar trips between 1969 and 1972.

Meanwhile, after putting its first man into space in 2003 -- the third nation to do so -- China is aiming to launch an unmanned rover on the moon's surface by 2012 and a manned mission to the moon by around 2020.

"China is doing all the things one would need to do in order to go to the moon," Dean Cheng, an expert on China's space programme at the US-based research firm CNA Corp, told AFP.

China further signalled its ambition in September last year when three "taikonauts" on board Shenzhou VII conducted the country's first spacewalk.

It has also announced plans for a space module as a step towards its goal of building a space station, state media reported earlier this year.

And last week China proclaimed it was aiming to put a woman onto the moon.

Yang Liwei, China's first man in space who is now in charge of new recruits for the space programme, told state media the search for the country's first female astronaut was underway.

However Fu Song, vice dean of Tsinghua University's School of Aerospace in Beijing, told AFP he could not see China landing a man on the moon in the next 10 years, and other experts agreed.

Leaving political hostility aside, budgetary constraints have put a brake on China's hopes, said Chan Kwing-lam, director of Center for Space Science Research at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

"I think some people tend to overestimate China's national power. For one thing, this type of mission is extremely expensive," he told AFP.

"For another, China doesn't have the technology and capability yet to land human beings on the moon."

China's space programme is often linked to its recent efforts to enhance its international standing, and the successful missions into orbit have been a huge boost to national pride.

"(The lunar landing) would show that China has fully grown beyond the century of humiliation and become a top-tier country," Cheng said.

Other recent events to have boosted the country's confidence range from topping the gold medal tally at last year's Beijing Olympics to the view that it is leading the world out of the current global financial crisis.

But before China pops any champagne corks, it will have to face off competition from its neighbours.

India's landing of a probe on the moon last year and Japan's launch of its first lunar satellite in June have marked a dramatic step forward for both countries.

All three countries have eyes on a share of the commercial satellite launch business and also see their space programmes as a symbol of international stature and economic development.

But any Asian rivalry is not on the scale of that between the United States and the Soviet Union in the 1960s, which was symbolic of the battle for dominance between competing ideologies.

"If there's competition, the nature is totally different from the Cold War. There's no hostility involved," Fu Song, vice dean of Tsinghua University's School of Aerospace in Beijing, told AFP.


Related Links
The Chinese Space Program - News, Policy and Technology
China News from

Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

China to launch Mars space probe
Shanghai, China (UPI) May 29, 2009
China's first Mars probe has completed testing and is on target for launch, the Shanghai Academy of Space Flight Technology said Friday. The Yinghuo-1 is to be launched later this year by a Russian carrier rocket and will go into orbit around Mars in 2010 after a 10-month, 236-million mile journey, Xinhua, China's state-run news agency, reported Friday. Yinghuo -- Chinese for ... read more

Neil Armstrong: First man on the moon

Buzz Aldrin: Second man to walk on the moon

Astronomy Question Of The Week: How Was The Moon Created

40 years on, deniers insist moon landing was in Arizona

Opportunity Examines 'Absecon'

Spirit Remains Busy At Troy

NASA: Spirit still stuck in martian sand

Ice Shouldn't Stop Dune Movement On Mars Or Earth

Space travel: Did 1969 mark the end of the dream?

US manned space flight in doubt 40 years after moon walk

Space, man's greatest challenge, 40 years after moon walk

The Beating Heart, Minus Gravity

China tools up for Asian space race

China to launch Mars space probe

China To Launch First Mars Probe In Second Half Of 2009

China Launches Yaogan VI Remote-Sensing Satellite

ISS Appearing Nationwide Over July 4 Weekend

Cargo Ship To Undock From ISS, Serve As Technical Platform

Space Station Room With A View

Progress To Undock From ISS June 30

Space Systems/Loral Delivers AsiaSat 5 To Baikonur

Brazil Plans To Expand Rocket Launching Base At North

Russia launches US radio satellite: report

Largest-Ever Telecommunications Satellite Launched

Twin Stars Form Solar System

STScI Joins The Search For Other Earths In Space

Five 'Holy Grails' Of Distant Solar Systems

Planet-Forming Disk Orbiting Twin Suns Revealed

Even More Trash Talk

More Trash Talk

Orbital To Build New Space Science Satellite To Study X-Ray Polarization

Satellite Successfully Performs Post-Launch Maneuvers

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement