China is hoping to launch 15 rockets, 17 satellites and its third manned mission in 2008. This is an ambitious manifest for any country, and it appears China hopes to take its global emergence to new heights in a year in which it will also host the summer Olympics.
No details were provided regarding specific dates or the types of unmanned missions that will be launched this year. The secretary-general of the Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defence, Huang Qiang, revealed the planned launches at a news conference on January 7, according to the official Xinhua news agency.
However, Chinese media reported earlier that the China National Space Administration plans to launch its third manned mission, Shenzhou VII sometime in October, and reportedly the mission will include a space walk. In 2003, China became only the third country to put a human into space using its own rocket, following the former Soviet Union and the United States, and in 2005 the Shenzhou VI rocket sent two Chinese astronauts on a five-day flight.
Xinhua quoted Huang as saying the Shenzhou VII was a major task for the year and called for full cooperation between all departments involved.
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China successfully launched its first lunar probe, Chang’e 1 in October 2007. The spacecraft is now successfully in lunar orbit and it returned its first images of the lunar surface in late November 2007. Chang’e 1 is also obtaining 3-D pictures of the moon and mapping surface elements. This was the beginning of their “step by step” program of exploring the moon. China hopes to deploy a lunar lander for surface exploration of the moon in 2012, and attempt a lunar sample return mission in 2017.
China will also mount a joint effort with Russia to explore Mars in 2009.
Original News Source: Reuters