Sunday, December 8, 2013

Rumor: China postpones outyear lunar landings

Chang'e-3, now in lunar orbit, is scheduled to land on the Moon later this week [CCTV].
(Note Source is ChinaTimes, Taipei, Monday, December 9) A source from the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology (SAST) said China has made major adjustments to its lunar exploration program (CLEP), postponing its plan to carry Chinese astronauts to the surface of the moon.

The current exploration plan is that Chang'e 3 will arrive on the moon, as scheduled, and since investment has been made in Chang'e 4, that mission will take place in 2015 as scheduled.

Research and development for Chang'e 5 mission, however, has been halted, leading to the postponement of China's manned lunar missions. According to the China National Space Administration (CNSA) plan, the Lunar Exploration Program consists of three phases — orbital, soft landing and automated sample return — which China hopes can be carried out successfully by 2020.

In 2010, after Chang'e 2 was launched, China's top expert for moon exploration and researcher at the Chinese Academy of Science, Ouyang Ziyuan, said the southern point of the moon is expected to be an ideal landing spot for a lander carrying astronauts. He noted that China's manned mission to the moon is unlikely to be realized by 2020.

In fact, he previously stated in 2006 that the country would be capable of taking humans to the moon between 2021 and 2025. However, on Jan. 9, 2013, Ouyang changed his mind, saying unmanned lunar missions will accumulate the necessary experience and skill for China's construction of a moon base and future manned missions, but the country has no timetable for a manned lunar landing.

In 2007, Luan Enjie, chief commander of China's Lunar Orbiter Project and former head of China National Space Administration, said China would not take humans to the moon in the next 20 years. Chinese astronauts are not projected to land on the moon until after 2030.


Phil Stooke said...

I'm not sure how much of this is reliable. The reference to statements by Ouyang does not represent a change of mind, just that something might be possible in 20-25 but isn't on a firm schedule. It has been said very frequently that there is no firm plan or schedule for human landings. I would be sorry to see sample return delayed (and human landings) but I don't think I can rely just on this article. I hope some clarification will emerge soon.

Joel Raupe said...

Yes, it's only a rumor, and from Taipei, of course, so as a reliable source for information on Mainland policy it is doubly suspect.