New Delhi, Sep 29: China on Monday, Sep 29 announced that a manned lunar landing is its next target when the current three-stage space program expires in 2020.
"When the three-phased strategy in our manned space program is completed, we will travel even further terrestrially," said Wang Zhaoyao, deputy head of China's manned space program office and Shenzhou VII mission spokesman. "After comprehensively analyzing the general trend in international manned space developments, as well as Chinese realities, we see a manned lunar landing as both a very challenging and tactical field in global hi-tech," he added.
"We deem it necessary for our country to do something in this field," he further added. Though Wang did not give a specific date for a moon landing, he said that experts believe this is 'very much needed' for research into relevant technologies to further China's achievements in space.
The 68-hour Shenzhou VII mission featured a 20-minute spacewalk on Saturday, Sep 27. It was broadcast live and watched by millions throughout the country.
The crew's landing at a site in the Inner Mongolia autonomous region was also carried live by national television.
The entire mission was pronounced a complete success and a terrific morale booster.
The mission's success has paved the way for completing the second stage of the program - building a space station before 2020.
Before that, a space lab will be set up in 2010 with Shenzhou X, the country's next full-crew space journey.