It is not ruled out two Chinese astronauts will travel into space next year
China continues moving towards the stars, only with peaceful purposes and to the benefit of the whole mankind. Sun Laiyan, Administrator of China National Space Administration (CNSA), said Shenzhou 6 manned spacecraft is to be launched in 2005. Mr. Sun noted the number of astronauts has not been determined yet. China's first and only space launch took place on October 15th 2003. Yang Liwei was China's first man in space on board the Shenzhou 5 spaceship. It is not ruled out there will be two Chinese astronauts traveling into space next year.
By 2007 China is to launch an unmanned craft to the Moon. Sun Laiyan believes a space trip is not as complicated as it seems. That is why China plans to send not only astronauts, but also engineers, scientists and even philosophers. “If a philosopher flies into space, it will give him a new outlook, especially if it is a Chinese philosopher,” Sun said. The CNSA director confirmed China plans to land its men on the Moon and send female astronauts into space too. Sun Laiyan did not specify any terms and details of such plans, though.
The Chinese space industry is developing surprisingly fast. China's space agency has been cooperating with the European Space Agency for several years working on the Double Star space probe project. A second craft was launched in July within the scope of the program. The spacecraft will probe the Earth’s magnetic field, the ionosphere, the upper and middle atmosphere.
Sun Laiyan said China was working on the 'constellation' of eight satellites to be used for observing the environment. Satellites will help forecast natural disasters globally, which means their negative consequences will be easier to prevent. Mr. Sun expressed his hope other Asian countries will participate in the development of such satellites.
Sun Laiyan's department dreams about strengthening the space cooperation with the USA and Japan. The USA, however, prefers to limit the high-tech cooperation with China for political and strategic reasons. Japan has nothing to be proud of yet as far as the space conquest is concerned.
Japan has been experiencing difficulties since 1999, when the country delayed its mission to the Moon. Japanese specialists spent five years solving technical problems. The Japanese space agency JAXA has recently revealed new problems in the data transmission system. Japan is not likely to launch its craft before 2005; the decision will be made in autumn of the current year.
Japan plans to put the $135 million-worth Lunar-A spacecraft into the Moon orbit. The probe is supposed to collect the geological structure data of the Moon. After a series of unsuccessful launches of the H-2A heavy rocket Japan aimed its efforts at small spacecrafts.