China acquires basic technology for manned lunar missions: chief engineer
JIUQUAN, China has acquired the basic technology to carry out manned lunar missions, chief engineer of China's manned space program Zhou Jianping said Thursday.
Compared with current missions, the technology used for manned lunar missions are more complex, Zhou said.
In order to achieve the goal of carrying out manned lunar missions, China needs rockets with greater load capacity, manned aircraft that can land on the lunar surface and return, and aircraft that can shuttle between Earth and the moon, Zhou said.
In addition, Zhou disclosed that the Wenchang Satellite Launch Center in southern China's Hainan Province is likely to be the second launch site for China's manned space program.
China's space station and cargo spacecraft will be launched at the Wenchang launch site, Zhou said, adding that from a technical perspective it is better to carry out manned lunar missions at the Wenchang site.
Completed in 2014, the Wenchang launch site is the fourth of its kind in China. Being the closest site to the equator, Wenchang boasts considerable latitudinal advantages. Satellites launched nearer the equator have a longer service life as they have a shorter journey to make it into geostationary orbit and save fuel accordingly.
"China has begun to develop a Mars probe, but such exploration will be a very complex project," Zhou added.