November 29, 2004

China to Accomplish Lunar Probe Program in 13 Years: Chief Lunarscientist

China to accomplish lunar probe program in 13 years: chief lunarscientist

BO'AO, Hainan, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- China is now capable of probing the moon and will complete an unmanned lunar probe programin 13 years.

These remarks were made by Ouyang Ziyuan, the program's chief scientist, at the ongoing annual conference of China Association of Science and Technology held in Bo'ao, southernmost Hainan Province, on Sunday.

There will be no copy of the unmanned lunar probe program, which brooks no failure, Ouyang, also an academician of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, told the 3,000 attendees of the meeting from the scientific and technological research circle in China.

Ouyang said that the program will embrace three major stages, namely, a moon surrounding probe; a lunar probe based on soft landing vehicles and moon roamers; and automatic lunar sampling and returning to the Earth.

China is now able to receive, process and decipher lunar probe data, according to Ouyang.

Ouyang noted the program will be an important step toward China's exploration of deep space, for the moon will provide a good platform to explore space.

The lunar program is also known as the Chang'e Program, which was named after a goddess who reached the moon in an ancient Chinese fairy tale.

Ouyang said a satellite dubbed Chang'e I will be launched to orbit the moon before 2007.

The satellite will obtain three-dimensional images of the lunarsurface, analyze the content of useful elements and materials, andprobe the depth of the lunar soil and the space environment between the Earth and the moon, Ouyang said.

Last year China became the third country in the world to send aman into space. Chinese space experts said earlier this month thattwo Chinese astronauts are expected to enter space late next year on a several-day mission.