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Shape of things to come-on the Moon
Latest Updated by 2006-10-31 09:33:32

The country plans to launch an unmanned orbiter to circle the Moon next year but it is already designing landing equipment that scientists say will scoop up lunar samples for return to Earth in about 15 years.

A concept vehicle, sitting on six wheels, greeted curious visitors to the Sixth China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, which opened yesterday in Zhuhai, a coastal city in South China's Guangdong Province.

'Lunar rover' makes its public debut at show
'Lunar rover' makes its public debut at show. [China Daily]
"Such a lunar vehicle will be for use in the second phase of China's lunar exploration project," Sun Weigang, director of the Space Department of China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, told China Daily.

Sun said it was the debut show of the "lunar rover'" and to make it more appealing, the company allows some visitors to remotely control the model, which is placed on an uneven sand surface to simulate lunar conditions.

China had earlier said that after completing a fly-by mission next year to obtain three-dimensional images of the lunar surface and analyze its content, a "lunar vehicle" would be soft-landed onto the Moon to cruise the surface by 2012.

The second phase will be followed by the soft-landing of another unmanned vehicle to collect samples of lunar soil by 2020, according to Sun Laiyan, chief of the China National Space Administration.

"We are testing some key technologies (that involve the second phase)," Sun Weigang said, adding the lunar vehicle is being developed mainly by the Chinese Academy of Space Technology.

The director said his company is displaying at least 110 types of space technology and applications at the Zhuhai exhibition, which is held every two years and is China's largest airshow.

In addition to powerful new-generation rockets and satellites, the company, a major participant in China's manned space programme, is showcasing a 10:1 scale model of a space station for the first time.

The space station will provide room for astronauts and scientists to live and work in outer space for extended periods, according to Sun.

In the next five years, the country will conduct research on short-term manned and long-term unmanned orbiting space laboratories, according to "China's Space Activities in 2006," a policy document the State Council Information Office released earlier this month.

The Zhuhai airshow has become a venue for major aircraft makers to display aircraft, radar equipment and other technology, in an attempt to strengthen their grip in the Chinese market.

Aircraft giants Airbus and Boeing as well as other major aviation companies have a strong presence at the show.

Boeing said it would demonstrate products that will "shape the future of the commercial aviation market," and is showcasing the 787 Dreamliner, according to a company statement.

Organizers said the six-day event has attracted participation of about 550 aviation and aerospace manufacturers and developers from 33 countries and regions.

The daily aerobatics show is headline by the "Russian Knights," after a six-year absence from the airshow, and Britain's "Golden Dream."
Editor: Yan

By: Source: China Daily Website
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