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  China's manned lunar plans

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Author Topic:   China's manned lunar plans
DavidH
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From: Huntsville, AL, USA
Registered: Jun 2003

posted 03-22-2004 11:28 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Prior to the Shenzhou 5 launch last year, there was a lot of talk that China was planning a manned mission to the Moon, possibly on an Apollo-like short-term timetable. Since then, however, I've heard little concrete said about it.

This Space.com article, however, has the first real update I've heard on the matter in months. According to the article, China's top space official has said the country wants to land a human on the Moon in 2020.

DavidH
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From: Huntsville, AL, USA
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posted 07-08-2004 11:12 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
BBC News: China sets out Moon goals
China aims to send a spacecraft to the Moon in three years' time, the head of the country's space agency, Sun Laiyan, has confirmed to the BBC.

In a wide-ranging interview, Mr Sun outlined the next steps China would take in expanding its space efforts.

These included unmanned missions from 2007 to orbit and land on the Moon, and to build a Chinese space station.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 10-12-2005 08:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Just before SZ-6 launched, Dwayne Day filed an interesting article on this subject for The Space Review: Red Moon. Dark Moon.

Day cites "Go Taikonauts!" website operator Chen Lan (one of the few "who regularly searches for information on the Chinese space program and who writes about it in English") as stating that China's lunar goals - at least as reported - are largely overstated:

As Lan explains, the Chinese human spaceflight program has for several years now had three primary goals. The first was to successfully orbit a human. The second goal is to develop a small, man-tended space station. And the third goal is to develop a small, permanent space station. Reports that China intends to land a human on the Moon, or even send humans on a circumlunar mission, are easily dismissed as poor translations of Chinese language news reports.

According to Lan, China has slowed down its program from the already lethargic development pace. After four unmanned test flights capped by the launch of Shenzhou 5, all taking place a year apart, Shenzhou 6 will fly two years after Shenzhou 5, and Shenzhou 7, which is supposed to feature the first Chinese spacewalk, is now scheduled for 2007. Shenzhou 8 and 9 are scheduled to feature the first rendezvous between two manned craft. But that is not scheduled for 2008. China's goal is to field the man-tended space station by 2010 and a permanent space station sometime after that.

Of course, that only addresses what the Chinese are sharing with the public, and Day addresses what signs there would be if China was developing a secret lunar program.

spaceuk
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posted 10-13-2005 11:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for spaceuk     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think we've got to be careful when reading Chinese news reports on their space achievements.

Its a bit like the 'ol days' when the Soviet Union issued news releases. Those were full of 'innuendos' and what I will call 'double meaning' reports.

Though the Chinese do not seem to be quite so bad as the Soviets were from mid 60s to mid 70s, caution should still be the criteria.

Back in Nov 2004 a news release issued by XNA Beijing agency said that "China Hopes To Land Robot On Moon By 2012."

carmelo
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From: Messina, Sicilia, Italia
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posted 10-13-2005 11:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for carmelo   Click Here to Email carmelo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
In Italy the TV news spoke of a lunar landing within 2017. In my opinion is an probable "Chinese Reloaded L1 LOK project". Two "takionauts" in a Shenzou modified capsule and an little lunar landing vehicle with ascend module derived from orbital module of Shenzhou, Earth-orbit rendezvous.

FFrench
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From: San Diego
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posted 10-13-2005 02:20 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for FFrench     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
A story like this makes it look like the moon plans are only a possibility based on speculation by outsiders, not "confirmed." It wouldn't surprise me if TV news misquoted this - they frequently get the facts wrong on space (and other!) stories...

SRB
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posted 11-04-2005 09:52 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for SRB   Click Here to Email SRB     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
CNN has reported that China plans to land people on the moon in 2017. The headline reads:
China, which launched its first manned space mission just two years ago, plans to put a man on the moon around 2017 and investigate what may be the perfect source of fuel, a newspaper reported on Friday.

DavidH
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From: Huntsville, AL, USA
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posted 11-10-2005 11:34 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for DavidH   Click Here to Email DavidH     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Or they haven't actually set a goal of 2017 at all:
There are a number of flaws in the article: it was published in a relatively minor publication, the "Southern Metropolis News", and cited a Chinese scientist, Ouyang Ziyuan, who previously claimed that China was planning a manned mission by 2010 only to later say he was misquoted and that a manned mission would come only after 2020. (Ouyang, involved in China's robotic lunar program, arguably doesn't speak for China's manned space program any more than Robert Zubrin speaks for NASA when he says the space agency could send humans to Mars by 2016.)
All this speculation that China will beat the U.S. back to the moon is lovely, but it ignores a complete lack of evidence.

China is currently debating whether to move ahead with a 25-ton-to-LEO launch vehicle, not exactly the sort of thing needed for a human lunar program. They only have two launches under their belt, the next is years away, the 25-ton rocket is still at the very least six and a half years away, and a moon rocket is even further away.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 11-27-2005 06:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hu Shixiang, deputy commander of China's manned space flight program, is quoted as saying "I think in about 10 to 15 years, we will have the ability to build our own space station and to carry out a manned moon landing."

Note that having the ability and actually doing it are two different things. I read Hu's quote as saying that in 10-15 years, China will be ready to begin planning for a manned lunar landing (which is more in line with past comments made by Hu and others).

Based on what I have read and heard from other space reporters, its believed that much of the talk about a Chinese manned lunar landing is Western-driven hype and/or mistakes in translation. China does have plans for robotic landers, but if they are looking toward sending men, its farther in the future than their timelines specify.

Robert Pearlman
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From: Houston, TX
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posted 12-14-2005 09:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Source: Xinhua
China To Finish All Unmanned Lunar Probing Around 2017

China will finish all its unmanned lunar probing activities around 2017 and will then start a program to send astronauts to the moon, Ouyang Ziyuan, chief scientist of China's lunar probe program, has said.

Ouyang, an academician of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), was quoted by Wednesday's Beijing Morning Post as saying that the first lunar satellite, Chang'e-1, will be launched at the Xichang Satellite Launch Center in southwest China's Sichuan Province in 2007.

Delivering a speech at elite Beijing University on Tuesday evening, Ouyang said, "The program is now well under way as planned, and we have successfully finished prototypes for most instruments."

The lunar probe program will be accomplished in three steps, namely lunar orbiting from 2004 to 2007, lunar landing from 2007 to 2012 and return from the moon from 2012 to 2017, according to Xu Dazhe, deputy general manager of China Aerospace Science and Technology Group Ltd..

The total cost for the first stage will be 1.4 billion yuan (about 175 million US dollars).

The State Council, China's central government, approved the country's first lunar probe program in 2004. A lunar probe engineering center was set up in Beijing in August this year by the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense.

China's first lunar satellite was designed to obtain three-dimensional images of the lunar surface, analyze the content of useful elements and materials, and probe the depth of lunar soil and the space environment between the earth and the moon.

According to the design, the satellite system consists of a satellite platform and payload, which will be based on China's Dongfanghong 3 satellite systems and other mature satellite technology. The satellite will be 2,350 kg in weight with 130 kg of payload, and will orbit the moon for one year.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 06-19-2006 10:18 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
According to Reuters, China has announced plans to go to the moon.

Again, the devil is in the details. China didn't announce a manned landing; an official with the Chinese space program said that they would be in the position to land men the Moon in 2024.

He said China's moon probing project will move onto its second stage from 2009 to 2015, and the third stage will begin in 2017 when robots will be sent to the moon and come back with moon samples.

When the fourth stage begin in 2024, he said, China will be able to send astronauts to the moon and then return to the earth.

It's also important to note who the "he" in this story is: Long Lehao, deputy chief architect of the lunar probing project. I may be mistaken, but this sounds like the equivalent of Steve Squyres commenting as to when the U.S. will be ready to land men on Mars. Squyres knows when the technology will be ready for such a mission, but cannot predict the political temperance for such nor can he make the announcement official.

Joe Holloway
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posted 03-06-2007 10:36 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Joe Holloway   Click Here to Email Joe Holloway     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Regarding this Reuters story found on the CNN website... I'd sure hate to see the plaque from Apollo 11's Eagle in a Beijing museum.

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 03-06-2007 06:18 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The Reuters story is misleading...
"The goal to land an astronaut on the moon can surely be achieved in 15 years," Huang said while attending the annual full session of the country's top political advisory body.

A top Chinese space official said early last year that China's moon exploration program included a planned lunar fly-by in 2007, a soft landing in 2012 and the return of lunar samples by 2017.

The schedule presented in the second paragraph is for unmanned probes but Reuters fails to mention that. Instead, the writer uses the earlier paragraph (and indeed the major thrust of the article) to imply that China has plans for a manned lunar landing within the next 15 years and that it is "achievable," per Huang.

Meanwhile, one has to wonder why this is even news: in June 2006, Reuters quoted another Chinese spacecraft "expert" who stated that China would be in the position to land men on the Moon in 2024. Is the difference between 15 and 18 years worthy or a headline?

issman1
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From: UK
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posted 12-03-2007 12:42 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for issman1     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It seems more and more likely China will NOT be landing taikonauts on the lunar surface before 2020.

NASA Administrator Michael Griffin has been implying the Chinese will usurp his agency's goal of returning to the Moon decades after Apollo 17.

I don't think so. China seems more intent on achieving a permanent presence in LEO.

Chang'e 1 is an impressive feat, but China does not possess the infrastructure to send people perhaps for 30 years.

capoetc
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From: Newnan GA (USA)
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posted 09-30-2008 12:41 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for capoetc   Click Here to Email capoetc     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Any word on why the Chinese want to go to the Moon? Is it a stepping stone for going to Mars? Are they going to set up a station on the Moon? Do they plan to mine the moon for helium-3 or something else?

All times are CT (US)

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