China aims for the moon this year

China plans to launch a lunar orbiter in the second half of 2007, in a first step towards a lunar probe, Xinhua news agency quoted the director of the National Space Administration as saying on Sunday.

If the Chang’e I orbiter succeeds in orbiting the moon, the next step would be an attempt to land. Ultimately a moon rover would collect samples before returning to earth, Sun Laiyan said in a speech at Beijing Jiaotong University.

“The moon probe project is the third milestone in China’s space technology after satellite and manned spacecraft projects, and a first step for us in exploring deep space,” Sun said.

Plans for a lunar orbiter launch in 2007 were included in China’s white paper on its space program, unveiled last year.

Source:  Reuters

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