China's latest move in the space-race

05 January 2014


"The Blue Marble" is a famous photograph of the Earth taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft en route to the Moon at a distance of about 29,000 kilometres (18,000 mi). It shows Africa, Antarctica, and the Arabian Peninsula.


China has the world's most ambitious space programme, and 2014 will see the nation take some important steps forward.

A new space launch facility at Hainan Island should be completed by the end of the year, allowing the earthcountry to launch the new generation of Long March 5 heavy-lift rockets.

That's what the country needs to follow a roadmap recently laid out by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, which would include establishing a manned lunar base and launching astronauts to Mars by 2050.

For now, China's Jade Rabbit rover, which landed on the Moon in December, is busily exploring its new home.  And plans are taking shape for a second orbiting space lab, Tiangong-2, in 2015.

By 2020, they may have a full space station in orbit - just in time to take over from the International Space Station.


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