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China backs away from manned lunar mission plans
Posted: Tue, May 18, 2004, 1:54 PM ET (1754 GMT)
Long March 2F launch of Shenzhou 5 (Xinhua) China will concentrate on developing a space station and has no plans to send humans to the Moon, a leading Chinese space official said this week. Wang Yongzhi, chief designer of China's manned spaceflight program, said Sunday that the country will focus on developing its own space station, a project that will take 15 years to complete. Wang said that while China will proceed with a series of robotic lunar missions, there are no plans to mount human missions to the Moon "due to financial reasons." Chinese officials have sent mixed messages about manned lunar mission plans, with a concensus emerging that such missions would likely not be attempted until at least 2020. He also disclosed that China has spent about $2.2 billion on its manned space program since its inception in 1993, a figure that the Chinese Xinhua news service described as being "far lesser than previously expected."
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