Miércoles 7 de Diciembre de 2005, Ip nº 138

China plans moon landing, space station
Budget permitting, China wants to be able to put a man on the moon and build a space station in 15 years, a space program official said.

"I think about 10 to 15 years later, we will have the ability to build our own space station and to carry out a manned moon landing," Hu Shixiang, deputy commander in chief of China's manned space flight program, said in Hong Kong on Sunday.

But the goal is subject to full funding, Hu said, explaining that China's space program must fit in the larger scheme of the country's overall development.

He said China wants to master the technology for a space walk and docking in space by 2012.

China is developing its space program at its own pace, not competing with the United States, Hu said.

"It's not the competition of the Cold War era," he said.

Hu is visiting Hong Kong following China's second successful manned space mission, together with the mission's two astronauts, Nie Haisheng and Fei Junlong. He made his comments in a televised question-and-answer session with news executives.

The two astronauts orbited Earth for five days last month aboard the Shenzhou 6 capsule, traveling 2 million miles (3.2 million kilometers). China's first manned mission was in 2003, when astronaut Yang Liwei orbited for 21 1/2 hours.

Hu stressed that China intends to explore space for peaceful purposes, saying Beijing "is willing to work hard with people around the world for the peaceful use of space."

Chinese space officials want to study the possibility of making rockets with 25 tons capacity -- three times the capacity of exiting rockets -- but the government hasn't approved the funding, he said.

Hu dismissed suggestions that the space program is too costly in a country that while growing rapidly, is still struggling to eradicate poverty in the countryside.

The recent space mission cost 900 million Chinese yuan ($111 million), compared to the 190 billion yuan ($23.5 billion) China spent on combating pollution last year, he said.


  28/11/2005. CNN.