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China's space ambitions key to nation's strength: Hu

by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) Dec 12, 2007
China's space exploration should be used to help build the nation's social, economic and technological strength, President Hu Jintao said Wednesday, while stressing the endeavour will be peaceful.

In a speech marking the success of China's first lunar probe, Hu called on the nation to support its fledgling space programme as a platform to advance competitiveness, build up human resources and raise technological prowess.

"Enhancing our capability of self-innovation is the core of China's national development strategy and the key to improving overall national strength," Hu said in a nationally televised speech at the Great Hall of the People.

Hu praised the team of scientists and academics for the successful launch in October of the Chang'e I lunar probe, which began transmitting three dimensional photos of the moon last month.

He called the mission "the first step" in China's lunar programme, which hopes to place a man on the moon by around 2020.

China successfully launched astronaut Yang Liwei into orbit in 2003, making it the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to put a man in space.

Its third manned space flight is scheduled for late 2008 on a mission that is planned to include three astronauts and China's first-ever spacewalk.

Early last year, China shocked the world and raised grave concerns in Washington when it became the third nation to shoot down an orbiting satellite with an anti-satellite missile.

China has since repeatedly sought to play down fears of a rising China threat, and Hu again appeared eager to soothe such concerns by saying China's space effort would be entirely peaceful.

"The development of our nation's outer space exploration is completely for peaceful purposes," Hu said. "The development of the peaceful uses of outer space is a common undertaking of humanity and conforms to the common interests of mankind."

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Chang'e-1 Photographs Dark Side Of The Moon
Beijing (XNA) Dec 12, 2007
The charge-coupled device (CCD) camera on Chang'e-1, China's first lunar orbiter, has started imaging probes on the dark side of the moon and captured photos of parts of this region, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced Tuesday. The CNSA said that the orbiter is operating normally in terms of flying, probing, land control and communication, as well as data transmitting and processing.

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