Lunar Programme To Be Open To World
Although China is still in the "initial stage" in tapping the moon and outer space when compared with the United States, Russia and Europe, the nation is catching up, Luan said.
The first phase of the Chang'e Project was solely accomplished by China through its own technology, products and designs, said Luan, former director of the China National Space Administration (CNSA).
However, lunar scientists from Europe, the United States and Russia have expressed their willingness to co-operate with China in its research of the moon and deep space exploration, he said.
Chinese scientists are assembling, integrating and testing to ensure that the mission of the nation's first lunar explorer, Chang'e-1, goes smoothly, a top space official said yesterday.
"Fundamental development has been achieved in all five related systems ranging from the satellite, the rocket, tracking and control, ground applications and the launch centre since it was approved two years ago," said Sun Laiyan, head of the China National Space Administration.
The lunar orbiter is scheduled to blast off next year from the Xichang Satellite Launch Centre in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, Sun said at the ongoing eighth International Lunar Exploration Working Group (ILEWG) Conference in Beijing.
The spacecraft will be 2350 kilograms in weight.
According to the plan, the program will go through four phases.
1. Send a satellite to orbit the Moon
2. Conduct exploration on the surface of the moon through the soft landing of a detector.
3. Collect Moon surface samples using a robot, which will then return to the Earth.
4. Manned missions.
According to the schedule, detailed program design of the first step will be completed by September 2004. Research and development of a prototype probe and relevant testing of the probe will be finished before the end of 2005. Design, manufacture, general assembly, test and ground experiments of the lunar probe satellite will be finished before December 2006. In 2007 the Chang'e 1 will blast off.