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Last month China launched a lunar orbiter with relatively little fanfare or mainstream press recognition. Now questions have arisen as to what exactly are the Chinese plans for the Moon. NASA has made warnings, speculation has been put forth claiming the Chinese are looking to be the 1st or 2nd most relevant space program.

"...the Chinese are now embarking on a systematic space program the world has not seen since the 1960's and for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States is facing real competition."

Not surprising considering that it was just recently in 2003 China became the 3rd country to send a man into Earth's orbit.

Back in 2003 China made public it's plan for a three-phase Moon exploration. More recently China is looking towards supplemental funding for its space exploration coming from private sources. More details on the private funding:

"...The funding opportunities will be open to "competent institutions and enterprises,"

"...With the expansion of China's space explorations, we'd like to encourage private enterprises to join the space technology development and attract public funds for aerospace-related research, manufacture and trade,"

China has divided its moon plans into 3 phases:

  1. End of 2007: Launch of a moon probe

  2. Landing on the Moon

  3. Landing and collection of soil and rock samples

Plans by a Chinese scientist for a space station by 2020 were quickly scuttled.

China is planning on putting a man on the moon within 15 years.

Over the past several years we have seen the increase in demand in commodities and resources due to their gigantic price increases - so are potential resources the reason behind this competition for moon exploration? Or is it merely a confidence building program for the country?

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