China Releases White Paper On Plans For A Manned Lunar Mission

China has released a white paper called “China’s Space Activities 2011,” indicating preliminary plans for a human lunar landing.

“China will push forward human spaceflight projects and make new technological breakthroughs, and conduct studies on the preliminary plans for a human lunar landing.”

AsianScientist (Jan. 3, 2012) – These long-ranging goals were stated in a white paper called China’s Space Activities 2011, which was released on Thursday last week.

Though the document emphasizes a lunar mission, it is surprisingly silent on a mission to Mars. This is significant because India is formulating plans for an unmanned flight to the Red Planet, though no time limit has yet been fixed.

“China will launch orbiters for lunar soft landing, roving and a sample return mission from the moon,” the report states.

The Chinese lunar mission is in stark contrast to the scenario in India where the government has so far not indicated whether there will be any further lunar missions post-Chandrayaan-2.

“It (China) will launch Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 spaceships and achieve unmanned or manned rendezvous and docking with the in-orbit Tiangong-1 spacecraft. China will launch space laboratories, manned spaceship, space freighters and make breakthroughs in and master space station key technologies,” the white paper states.

The white paper indicates that China plans to operationalize its three-man crew space station by 2020, just around the time when the 17-nation International Space Station will be deactivated. It is clear that China plans to surge ahead of the U.S. in space sciences and technology.

It details plans over the next five years, where China will “continue to implement projects in the areas of human spaceflight, lunar exploration, high resolution earth observation system, satellite navigational and positioning system and new generation launch vehicles.”

According to the white paper, the Long March-5 rocket will use non-toxic and pollution free propellant and will be capable of placing 25 tons of payload into the near earth orbit or 14 tons into the geostationary orbit.

The white paper also emphasizes “exploration and utilization of outer space for peaceful purposes,” and space co-operation in the Asia-Pacific region.

“The Chinese government holds that each and every country in the world enjoys equal rights to freely explore, develop and utilize outer space and its celestial bodies,” the paper states.

Key areas of international co-operation will be:-

  • Space astronomy, space physics, micro-gravity science, space life science, deep space exploration and space debris, including the properties of black holes.
  • Application of earth observation satellites in environment and disaster monitoring.
  • Application of communication satellites in broadcasting and television, long distance tele-education and tele-medicine programs.
  • Human space flight program.
  • Exchange of personnel.

Space experts point out that China’s space program has already made major breakthroughs in a relatively short time, although it lags behind the U.S. and Russia in the field of space technology.

The full text of the report can be found at: China’s Space Activities in 2011.


Copyright: Asian Scientist Magazine; Photo: Tang Yew Chung.
Disclaimer: This article does not necessarily reflect the views of AsianScientist or its staff.

Srinivas is a journalist with a passion for space exploration.

Related Stories from Asian Scientist