Competitive Exams: Current Affairs 2011: China's Space mission

China's space program

  • This year, a rocket will carry a boxcar-sized module into orbit, the first building block for a Chinese space station. Around 2013, China plans to launch a lunar probe that will set a rover loose on the moon. It wants to put a man on the moon, sometime after 2020.

  • While the United States is still working out its next move after the space shuttle program, China is forging ahead. Some experts worry the US could slip behind China in human spaceflight the realm of space science with the most prestige.

  • China is still far behind the US in space technology and experience, but what it doesn't lack is a plan or financial resources. While US programs can fall victim to budgetary worries or a change of government, rapidly growing China appears to have no such constraints.

  • In 2003, China became the third country to send an astronaut into space on its own, four decades after the United States and Russia. In 2006, it sent its first probe to the moon. In 2008, China carried out its first spacewalk.

  • China's space station is slated to open around 2020, the same year the International Space Station is scheduled to close. If the US and its partners don't come up with a replacement, China could have the only permanent human presence in the sky.

  • Its space laboratory module, due to be launched later this year, will test docking techniques for the space station. China's version will be smaller than the International Space Station.

  • Some elements of China's program, notably the firing of a ground-based missile into one of its dead satellites four years ago, have alarmed American officials and others who say such moves could set off a race to militarize space. China, having orbited the moon and starting collecting data on it, is moving toward sending a man there and beyond:

  • It hopes to launch the rover-releasing moon probe in about two years. Chinese experts believe a moon landing will happen in 2025 at the earliest.

Courtesy: The Hindu and Times of India