China lays out five-year space plan

Posted by Kate Taylor

China's released a white paper setting out its plans to accelerate space activities over the next five years.

China says it intends to 'give priority to applied satellites and satellite applications, develop human spaceflight and deep-space exploration properly, and give active support to space science exploration.'

The paper, titled 'China's Space Activities in 2011', details how the country intends to launch space laboratories, freighters and manned ships, and to develop a manned space station by the end of 2016.

The country recently carried out a successful docking with its fledgling Tiangong-1 space station. While earlier plans called for the station to be complete by the end of 2016, it wasn't expected to be manned for a further four years after that.

The new policy has a strong focus on satellite technologies, with plans for Earth observation, communications and broadcasting satellites and navigation and positioning satellites. The country this week put a new navigation system into operation designed to reduce the country's dependence on the US' GPS system.

The country also plans to build a new launch pad on the southern island of Hainan.

Lunar exploration efforts will continue, says the government, with the confirmation of plans to land a rover on the moon and prepare for a human landing.

It plans to use clean power to launch its next-generation Long March 5 rockets, which will be used to place 25-tonne payloads in near-Earth orbit.

State news agency Xinhua has an overview of the paper, here.