China plans to land a human on the moon by 2020, the country's chief space official said in comments broadcast today by state television.As I've said previously, the devil's in the details. It sounds as if they're accelerating the pace, with Phase 3 involving crewed vehicles. From my previous post on October 17:
"By 2020, we will achieve visiting the moon," said Luan Enjie, director of the National Aerospace Bureau. Luan used a verb that specifically describes a human act.
Luan said that would follow the launch of a probe to orbit the moon by 2007 and an unmanned lunar landing by 2010.
Phase 1, by 2005: Lunar flyby or orbiting satellite missions, perhaps using the DFH-3 bus.
Phase 2, by 2010: unmanned soft-landing missions.
Phase 3, by 2020: Robotic exploration using surface rovers.
Phase 4, by 2030: Lunar sample return missions.
Only after 2030 would manned flights and construction of a lunar base begin.