China to send a man to the moon

March 12th, 2009 - 10:46 am ICT by Amrit Rashmisrisethi  

China is ready to send a man to the moon as early as 2020 if a trial of ‘recoverable moon rovers’ in the three years before that runs smoothly, state media quoted a professor saying.

The biggest challenge for a moon mission will be getting the astronauts on board back to earth, Xu Shijie from the Beijing University of Aeronautics told the Xinhua news agency.

‘The key technology problem is the returning’, he said, adding that any moon mission will also have two earlier stages of orbiting and then landing on the lunar surface.

The 2017 to 2020 launch of recoverable probes to the moon will be a key test of China’s space engineering.

Beijing has officially been coy about when it hoped to get a man to the moon, setting 2020 only as the planned date for launching a manned space station.

Three Chinese astronauts last year successfully completed the country’s first spacewalk, during a 68-hour voyage that was hailed as a major victory by the country’s leaders.

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