Space program of China
The space program of the People's Republic of China began in 1968 and was an outgrowth of China's attempt to develop an indigenous nuclear deterrent and delivery system after the Sino-Soviet split in 1960. China's first satellite, Dong Fang Hong I (The East Is Red I), was launched in 1970. There were over 50 Dong Fang Hong satellites launched over the next 30 years.
In 1992, authorization and funding was given for Project 921 which was a plan to launch a manned spacecraft. This produced the successful Shenzhou 5, China's first manned mission in space. At least three more Shenzhou missions are planned, and will include multiple astronauts, space walks and docking.
In February 2004, China formally started the implementation phase of its unmanned Moon exploration project. According to Sun Laiyan, vice-administrator of the China National Space Administration, the project will involve three phases: orbiting the Moon; landing; and returning samples. The first phase will spend 1.4 billion renminbi to orbit a satellite around the Moon before 2007. Phase two involves a lander before 2010. Phase three involves collecting lunar soil samples before 2020.
Initially the Chinese space program was organized under the People's Liberation Army, particularly the Secondary Artillery Corp. However, the Chinese space program was reorganized in the 1990s as part of a general reorganization of the Chinese defense industry to make it resemble Western defense procurement.
The agency responsible for the launches is the China National Space Administration, an agency within the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense. The workhorse of the program is the Long March rocket which is produced by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology and satellites are produced by the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. The latter organizations are state-owned enterprises, however it is the intent of the PRC government that they not actively be state managed and that they behave much as private corporations would in the West.
China's space program has several goals. The first is to increase China's national prestige. The second is to develop China as a low cost satellite launcher. Finally, the PRC has military goals which include use of space for reconnaissance and communication while denying the use of space to other militaries, namely that of the United States, in case of conflict.
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