Thursday, 12 March 2009

China's Lunar Timetable

From Space Daily:
A Chinese astronautics professor said Tuesday the country is capable of sending astronauts to moon around 2020.

"The key technology problem is the 'returning'", said Xu Shijie, a professor from the Beijing University of Aeronautics, explaining that the country's three-stage moon mission could be defined as "orbiting", "landing" and "returning".

The third stage will last from 2017 to 2020, during which China will launch recoverable moon rovers.

Many countries, including China, target to sending astronauts to the moon, said Xu, member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), who is in Beijing attending the annual sessions of the political advisory body.

China's moon mission timetable was revealed as the country concluded the first phase of its three-stage moon mission with a controlled impact of Chang'e-1 on the moon on March 1.

China plans to land Chang'e-3 on the moon at latest in 2013, Ye Peijian, chief designer of Chang'e-1, the country's first moon probe, said on Monday.

The mission of Chang'e-3 is to make soft landing and probe the moon, said Ye, a CPPCC national committee member.

Before the mission, Chang'e-2 will be launched at the latest in2011 to test key technologies of soft landing and lower technical risks, he said.

Chang'e-4 will also be launched during the second phase, which will be concluded before 2017.
As I predicted earlier :
The long-term strategy is to have a reliable, tested system for getting people to and from a permanent, largely self-sustaining lunar base, within the next 50 years. The plan is to get some more uncrewed lunar surveyors and sample-return landers working by 2017, while activities continue in earth orbit. Activities including a construction facility for assembling lunar missions. If all goes well, expect a crewed landing in 2020, but it could easily be later than that.
They've made no secret of this, and it doesn't take a Rocket Scientist..... ok, it does I guess, but it doesn't take a *genius* Rocket Scientist to make predictions like this. OK, so most Rocket Scientists are geniusses, but you know what I mean. I'll shut up now.

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