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BEIJING: A top official in China's space programme has set 2024 for the country's first moonwalk, a Hong Kong newspaper reported on Monday, cementing its position as a new space power.

The mission would kick off in earnest next year, the Beijing-backed Wen Wei Po paper said, when China launches an unmanned lunar satellite in March or April to orbit and survey the lunar surface.

"China now basically possesses the technology, materials and the economic strength" to put a man on the moon, the paper quoted the official as saying.

China has come a long way since then paramount leader Mao Zedong lamented in 1957-the year the Soviet Union put the first ever man-made object into orbit-that the country was incapable even of putting a potato into space.

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This is great news :thumb:

It's a long time to 2024 but step by step China space program gets closer to that goal.

Important Chinese space missions so far:

- Shenzhou-5 spacecraft (October 2003). Yang Liwei, the first Chinese in
space. Spacecraft made 14 orbits and landed 21 hours after launch.

- Shenzhou-6 (October 2005). Carried a crew of Fei Junlong and Nie Haisheng
for five days in low Earth orbit.

Next mission:

- Shenzhou-7 (September 2008)

This will be the third human spaceflight. For the first time it will carry a crew of three taikonauts. A first space walk will be performed during this mission.

Can't wait for the next mission :thumb:
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