Agency Outlines Goals Through 2011
Despite being the
subject of some jokes... and drawing NASA's ire on joint
missions... Russia's "space tourist" program has succeeded in
drawing attention to that nation's space endeavours. It has also
brought in needed revenue for the program. Those facts are not lost
on the fledgling Chinese space program, which may consider a
similar program in the near future.
Sun Laiyan, head of the China National Space Agency, told
Reuters this week China may one day offer trips into space for
'tourists,' similar to Russia. Future missions being considered by
the CNSA include moon exploration flights, and placing satellites
in orbit to beam educational programming to citizens in rural
As Aero-News reported, in 2003 China became only the third
country -- after Russia and the United States -- to send a man into
space atop its own rocket. In 2005, the agency followed that up
with a two-man orbital flight.
"The success of our manned space missions, becoming only the
third country in the world to put a man into space on our own, is a
source of pride for the Chinese nation," Sun said, as he outline
the agency's goals over the next five years.
In 2007, China planes to send an unmanned probe to orbit the
moon. More earth-orbital flights are also planned, for longer and
longer durations... and it's possible one of those flights could
have a space 'tourist' along for the ride, as well.
"Once our technology is more mature, more reliable, there is
this possibility. Not only male tourists, but female too," Sun
The space agency
administrator also defended the billions of dollars China has spent
on its space program, as the country struggles to clothe and feed
millions of people. Sun noted China's space budget for 2007 is a
tenth of the 17 billion NASA has budgeted for that timeframe.
"We think that China's space program can solve many economic and
social problems that we are now facing," he said. "China considers
the development of its space industry as a strategic way to enhance
its economic, scientific, technological and national defense
strength, as well as a cohesive force for the unity of the Chinese
people, in order to rejuvenate China."
Is it just us... or does that sound more inspiring than
NASA's reasons for returning to the