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China to enter fast track in space exploration

Reporter: Meng Qingsheng 丨 CCTV.com

04-23-2016 05:48 BJT

China is now stepping up efforts in space exploration.  Key elements in the 13th Five-Year Plan period through 2020, are the construction of a space lab, and a Mars exploration program.  Authorities have released a detailed blueprint for the next few years.

A massive space exploration drive. On Friday, ahead of the nation's first Space Day, China released its blueprint.

"We've decided to launch the Mars exploration program. We've also fully activated the Chang'e-4 mission, and the Chang'e Five mission is now in its final stage. The Beidou Navigation System will expand its coverage around the world. We will also see the maiden flights of the Long March-5 and the Long March-7 carrier rockets," said Xu Dazhe, administrator of China National Space Administration.

By the end of the current Five-Year Plan, China will put a satellite into space to explore Mars. Research will focus on the soil, atmosphere, and even the water on the Red Planet.

"The Mars mission marks China entry into the de facto phase of deep-space exploration. Even though our spacecraft have already entered deep space, we need the Mars mission to help us improve our understanding of deep space," Xu said.

This year, China will also send up its second space laboratory Tiangong-2.

"We are now working on building the space laboratory. And this year we will launch Tiangong-2 and Shenzhou-11, and conduct rendezvous and docking of the two. We will also conduct a series of space lab experiments," Xu said.

The new space lab has been modified to make it more liveable for medium-term stays for astronauts.

Tiangong-2 will become a fully-fledged space station around 2022, fulfilling China's goal of having a permanent manned station in space. After the scheduled retirement of the International Space Station by 2024, China’s new space station is expected to become the only operational one in orbit.

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