China may reach Moon by 2020

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London, July 16 : A NASA administrator has said that if it wishes, China is capable of sending a manned mission to the Moon by 2020.

According to a report by BBC News, Michael Griffin is the administrator who gave the statement.

"Certainly it is possible that if China wants to put people on the Moon, and if it wishes to do so before the United States, it certainly can. As a matter of technical capability, it absolutely can," said Dr Griffin.

China has sent two manned missions into space over the last five years. The first, in 2003, carried "yuhangyuan" (astronaut) Yang Liwei into orbit for 21 hours aboard the Shenzhou 5 spacecraft.

On the second, two spacemen flew aboard the Shenzhou 6 craft, spending nearly five days in orbit.

Another manned mission is set to go ahead in October, just after the Beijing Olympic Games.

Dr Griffin said that the US and China were now making the first tentative steps towards collaborating with each other on space exploration.

"We do have some early co-operative initiatives that we are trying to put in place with China, mostly centred around scientific enterprises. I think that's a great place to start," he said.

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