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Words in the News
 
Monday 06 October 2003
 
China details space plans
 
Chen Long Just days before China is expected to launch its first manned space flight, a Chinese defence official has spoken about China's even more ambitious space programme.

This report from Louisa Lim:
 
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These comments are a sign that Chinese ambitions in space go far beyond a manned space flight. A top defence official, Wang Shuquan, said China will conduct tests for a future lunar landing and the Beijing Youth Daily newspaper has described the next milestone after the manned space flight as sending a satellite to orbit the moon. This lunar orbiter would circle the moon for a year, gathering information about the moon's geology, soil, environment and natural resources.

In the past Chinese officials have even talked of the possibility of establishing a base on the moon.

But what happens to these plans is likely to depend on the success of China's manned space flight, and although no dates have been officially revealed, that's believed to be just days away. The speculation in the Chinese press is that it will blast off just after the plenary meeting of the Communist party's central committee which ends on October 14th.

A successful launch will spark an outpouring of national pride, boosting the credibility of the Communist party. Failure however would be a huge loss of face.

It's not yet known who China's first astronaut, or taikonaut, as they are called here, will be. But reports say fourteen would-be astronauts have arrived at the launch pad at Jiuquan in western Gansu province and are training inside the actual spacecraft.

LOUISA LIM, BBC NEWS, BEIJING
 
 
Listen Listen to the words
 
manned space flight
 
a flight outside of the earth’s atmosphere, with a human in the spacecraft
 
lunar landing
 
a lunar landing happens when a spacecraft is brought down safely to the surface of the moon
 
milestone
 
an important event in the history or development of something
 
orbit the moon
 
follow a path that goes around the moon
 
establishing a base
 
creating a place which people can live and work
 
blast off
 
a spacecraft blasts off when it leaves the ground to begin its journey into space
 
spark an outpouring
 
here - create very strong feelings within the Chinese population (if something sparks something else, it causes it to happen)
 
loss of face
 
embarrassment
 
astronaut
 
a person who travels in a spacecraft
 
would-be astronauts
 
would-be astronauts are people who would like to be astronauts but aren’t yet
 
 
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