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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Nov 5, 2005 5:52:52 GMT -6
China to walk in space, but new rocket to reach moon still awaiting approval
China's next space flights will include walks and dockings, but more ambitious plans for a space station and a lunar probe are still awaiting formal government approval.
It would take up to six-and-a-half years after receiving the go ahead for the next generation rocket -- designated the Long March 5 -- to be able to fly, said Wu Yansheng, head of the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT).
"Nine tons is the biggest payload that our low orbit carrier rockets can carry at present, while eight tons is the most effective payload of the Long March 2F rocket," Wu told a space forum in Beijing on Wednesday.
"This payload capacity cannot satisfy the needs of our plans to develop a space station nor the tasks of our lunar project to land (on the moon) and return."
The Long March 2F has long been seen as one of China's most dependable rockets and is the engine that has launched the Shenzhou series of flights, including two manned flights since 2003.
China's most recent spaceflight took place last month when the Shenzhou VI put two astronauts into orbit on a five-day flight that captivated the nation. China is the third country after the former Soviet Union and the United States to put men in space.